A petition to defend the work of literary translators from Artificial Intelligence


Literary translators are already experiencing how the automation of intellectual work and human language affects their field and society as a whole: both art and democracy are under threat. We, the literary translators’ associations of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, along with our supporters, warn against these developments and urgently request remedial measures.

This petition has been launched by the Swiss Authors’ Association, the Austrian Association of Literary and Scientific Translators, and the German Literary and Scholarly Translators’ Association. Margutte totally agrees with what stated and supports it.

This is the link to sign it.

1) Human creativity, sensory experience, individuality, empirical knowledge and the urge to communicate are essential to living language and cannot be broken down to predictable calculations.

2) Text-generative AI aims to make human and machine language indistinguishable; thus, it is designed as a replacement for human skills, not as a tool.

3) Bot language merely reproduces the status quo. It multiplies biases and inhibits creativity, the dynamic development of languages and the acquisition of language skills.

4) Machine translation systems are based in part on the unauthorized, uncompensated and untransparent use of copyright-protected works, i.e. on intellectual property and human skills developed through years of life experience and education.

5) Machine language deceives readers about authorship and claims to truth. In the context of AI systems, the term “translation” is used for a form of machine language with no person behind it, completely unrelated to the exacting, thoughtful, responsible work that goes into a human translation.

6) Among other repercussions, this harms the literary ecosystem in and from which language creators live, organize education and intellectual exchange and further develop the knowledge and science of translation. And it harms the production of world literature, because world literature is created by translators.

(Edited by Silvia Pio)