CAPE and Translation Bureau meet to discuss artificial intelligence

September 17, 2019

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In recent weeks, CAPE has been meeting with members of the Translation Bureau’s leadership team to discuss artificial intelligence (AI). CAPE has been particularly interested in understanding their intentions around translation technology.
 
Those discussions have been cordial and collaborative, with everyone keeping an open mind about what the future of translation will look like. Both parties are looking for a balance between the need to offer Canadians the best services possible and to recognize the unique complexity of the work performed by the Bureau’s language experts.
 
CAPE believes that the introduction of new technology should be driven by the need to provide the Bureau’s language experts with greater support to ease their burden and allow them to focus their attention on assignments that require their unique set of skills.
 
The introduction of artificial intelligence and translation technology is covered under Article 33 of the TR collective agreement, which also creates an obligation for the employer to keep employees informed of potential technological changes that could impact them, and to minimize the adverse effects of those changes.

“We are aware of the government’s growing interest in AI, automation and translation software and we want to make sure it fully understands its limitations” said Greg Phillips, president of CAPE. 
 
“We are pleased with our exchanges with the Translation Bureau and by the leadership team’s level of engagement so far, and appreciate their willingness to participate in meetings to discuss the issue.”
 
At CAPE’s request, CAPE and the BTB have formed a working group that now meets every month. Members of the group include:
 

 
CAPE’s interest in the matter was covered in a recent article published in the Hill Times, August 21, 2019. Download the article (PDF).
 
Increased Federal Interest in AI
 
As announced in a recent release, the Canadian government is moving ahead with plans to digitalize the government.  It is expected to explore ways to make greater use of AI and other technology to cut costs, increase effectiveness and productivity as a way to better serve Canadians. 
 
CAPE will keep members apprised of the latest developments surrounding this issue and make sure the government proceeds with caution as it explores the adoption of new technology in the workplace.
 
Feel free to share your thoughts and impressions on the subject with us at info@acep-cape.ca.