Machine Translation and National Security

‘UK is at grave risk from the linguistic shortcomings of its intelligence agencies’, warns Dr Henry Liu, President of the International Federation of Translators (FIT).

henry-liu-150 copyAccording to Dr Liu, British citizens are being placed at unnecessary risk by a lack of accountability and absence of quality control in intelligence gathering operations.

‘The UK intelligence community relies too heavily on big data and English language sources’, says Dr Liu, ‘and when it does gather intelligence in other languages, bilingual officers without any linguistic, translator, or interpreter training are assigned to decipher it.’

Dr Liu, a leading interpreter in English, Chinese and French, will discuss issues that have implications for UK’s international reputation and domestic security, at a pre-conference presentation for translators in London on February 3.

In defence of UK’s intelligence agencies, Dr Liu points to the acute, bordering on chronic, levels of under-resourcing for intelligence operations conducted in languages other than English.


Speaker: Dr Henry Liu, President of the International Federation of Translators, based in New Zealand.

Date: Friday 3 February 2017 (2-3 pm)

Venue: IALS (Institute of Advanced Legal Studies), 19 Russell Square, London, UK.

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