AI Series: Can AI Be Useful in Book Translation?

Tuesday, June 25, 2024
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM (EDT)
This webinar will be held via Zoom.
Category: Webinars

Using AI for book translation is controversial in ways similar to using AI for audiobook narration: it’s replacing human talent with machines. AI for audiobook narration has been used almost exclusively for books that would not otherwise have audiobook versions, where ordinary audiobook budgets are just not affordable. Will we see the same thing in AI translations?

But AI for translation falls afoul of “literariness,” our well-placed affection for the great books that have been translated into English by literary artists. It’s seems like apostacy to imagine that ChatGPT could replace Gregory Rabassa (translator of One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez, among many other works).

But this is not primarily about literary translation. Nor is it about translating technical manuals. It’s about using AI to undertake the translation of the many hundreds of thousands of books, both fiction and non-fiction, in many languages, that might never be translated without low-cost AI tools. Is this a good thing? Join us on June 25 and make your own decision.

In this free webinar—and second in BISG's AI Series—Thad McIlroy will tackle this question in conversation with:

  • Andy Benzo, on aspects of AI and literary translation
  • Robert Carsten Carlberg, offering a working translator’s perspective
  • Len Epp, on how to translate a book into 31 additional languages in two days

BISG’s AI Working Group is open to both members and nonmembers. To learn more, read reference the AI Working Group Charter and our recent blog post.


Thad McIlroy, Principal, The Future of Publishing, is a digital publishing analyst and author based in San Francisco. His latest book is The AI Revolution in Book Publishing: A Concise Guide to Navigating Artificial Intelligence for Writers and Publishers.

Andy Benzo, President-Elect of the American Translators Association, is a seasoned legal language expert and legal translator, with an impressive career spanning over 35 years.

Robert Casten Carlberg is CEO & Co-founder at Nuanxed, where “Quality book translations made easy, fast and affordable” are in part enabled by AI.

Len Epp is the co-founder of Leanpub, a unique platform for writing and selling ebooks, supporting a global community of readers and independent authors.

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