SAFE-AI Task Force Organizes to Address AI in Interpreting

On Tuesday, June 27, more than 350 interpreters, language advocates, and representatives of national and international interpreter and translators associations met online to launch the Interpreting SAFE-AI Task Force - Stakeholders Advocating for Fair and Ethical AI in Interpreting. Organized by a coalition of distinguished experts in conference, medical, and legal interpreting, interpreter training, and language access, the meeting raised issues of reliability, accuracy, liability, and consumer protection in calling for volunteers for an international task force to develop recommendations for legislation and regulation of Large Language Models and generative AI in interpreting. 

Panelists included Winnie Heh of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies; Dr. Alan Melby, Chair of the International Federation of Translators - North America Regional Centre; Katharine Allen and Barry Slaughter Olsen, co-founders of Interpret America; Ludmila Golovine, President & CEO, MasterWord Services, Inc.; Natalya Mytareva, Executive Director, Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters; Hélène Pielmeier, Senior Analyst at Common Sense Advisory; Cody Francisco, CDI, Director, Interpreting Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, MasterWord Services, Inc.; Eliana Lobo, CoreCHI-P, Director, Lobo Language Access; and Dr. Bill Rivers, long-time advocate and lobbyist for language access. 

"In DC, the US Congress is looking at how to regulate AI, and we need to tell them if, when, and how it can and can't be used for interpreting," noted Dr. Rivers. Speaking through an ASL interpreter, Cody Francisco pointed out that "while AI and avatars might seem to be a logical step for American Sign Language interpreting, the technology isn't anywhere close to ready, as the Deaf use complex combinations of hand and arm movements, upper body positioning, facial expressions, and more in ASL." Dr. Alan Melby reported that the International Federation of Translators, an umbrella organization of more than 100 national and regional professional associations, "has serious concerns about the ill-informed rush to deploy AI for interpreting." Natalya Mytareva of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters related that "language access in healthcare - a civil right in the United States - requires not merely accurate, but stringent protection of patient privacy and data, as well as professional ethics, none of which are evident in AI-based interpreting."  According to Ludmila Golovine, President & CEO of MasterWord Services, "The language industry is watching AI carefully, and we're receiving requests from clients as to its use in healthcare and other settings - especially as it is 'free,' at least at this early stage."

Eliana Lobo and Hélène Pielmeier then asked participants to complete the SAFE-AI survey, which gathers opinions on the options for the organizational structure of the SAFE-AI Task Force. Following a Q&A session with the audience, Winnie Heh ended the meeting with a call to action, saying that "it's our responsibility to organize and to provide our governmental leaders and our consumers with sound guidance on AI in interpreting." 

Complete the SAFE-AI Survey by July 15 at!

The recording of the event can be viewed at

About Interpreting SAFE-AI Task Force Workgroup

Interpreting SAFE-AI Task Force Workgroup is a diverse group of industry stakeholders advocating for fair and ethical AI in interpreting. The group's mission is to establish, disseminate, and promote guidelines for responsible AI adoption in the field, ensuring the technology's benefits are maximized while minimizing potential risks.


Source: Interpreting SAFE-AI Task Force Workgroup