FIT President’s Message: Farewell to 2023

Headshot of Alison Rodriguez

As we say goodbye to 2023, which has arguably been a challenging year for many, FIT is also saying goodbye to our treasurer, Ted Wozniak, and Council member, Katia Jimenez, due to personal reasons. Council will co-opt replacements at our next meeting. We are grateful to Ted for the enormous amount of work he has done in the demanding role of treasurer and for his positive, collaborative approach. We thank them both for their contributions and wish them the best for the future.

We are also grateful to all our contributors to this, the year’s final edition of Translatio. It’s always heartening to hear from our members about international cooperation, local events, and personal achievements. Not surprisingly, AI is mentioned often in this edition, and perspectives are varied and changing. These days, it’s not so much the ‘if’ we’re discussing, but the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. As BDÜ’s article on the Frankfurt Book Fair and AI in literary translation outlines, the ongoing issues are those around use cases, copyright, and ethics. Discussion panels and working groups, such as those outlined, help us make sense of the impact on our profession and the future of work.

The article also outlines the role of authors’ individual style and agency, quoting one of my all-time favourite movie directors, Billy Wilder, whose work is a perfect example of the difference between AI and human creations. AI cannot produce a comedy movie full of humour, puns, sarcasm, irony, relevant political comment or social subtexts, and layers of meaning; a Billy Wilder film without all those elements so integral to his style would be bland and boring – that is to say, not a Wilder film at all. Working through all these issues together, sharing perspectives, we can reinforce the value that tools such as AI bring to skilled professionals and, as ITI put it in their response to AI, ‘the value that human translators and interpreters bring to their clients’. One thing is for sure, as AI and LLMs now have a broad impact on all of society, their use should be treated not with fear and pessimism but with experimentation and a healthy dose of scepticism.

Over the last few months, FIT has begun its webinar series, which aims to build skills, cross-national knowledge, and community. We began with a workshop on vicarious trauma and managing emotions by Severine Hubscher-Davidson, an audiovisual translation roundtable, and a webinar on the role of Indigenous language translation in the midst of climate change. All very timely, as this month we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which encompasses the overlap of Indigenous language and linguistic rights, also a theme of our webinar celebrating ITD this year. On the topic of ITD, the theme for 2024 will be on copyright, another topical issue that brings us back to AI.

On behalf of FIT Council, I wish all our members a wonderful end to the year, however and whenever you celebrate. We look forward to working together in 2024.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Translatio.

Alison Rodriguez,

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