Interview: John Tinsley of Iconic talks about machine translation and eDiscovery

Iconic specialises in enterprise machine translation and eDiscovery translation. I recently interviewed CEO Dr John Tinsley and the result appears in an article by Iconic here. The interview itself is below.

Consumer-level tools for machine translation have improved enormously over the years. I asked John Tinsley what Iconic adds to the task.

John Tinsley said that you need a lot more than the tools which do the translation, both in an enterprise context and for eDiscovery. There are three main things which users expect – the security of data, support, and integration as seamlessly as possible into workflows. He explains in the interview what he means by this and why these elements are important.

Not that long ago, translation for eDiscovery was done entirely by humans. Machine translation usage is increasing – information is now mainly electronic, and there is much more of it. Manual review is expensive and slow, and as the quality of machine translation has improved, it has largely replaced human review. Sometimes documents are translated first by machine and then reviewed manually (with human translation available where necessary), or they are reviewed manually first in their native language before potentially relevant documents are sent for machine translation.

I asked John Tinsley about Iconic’s work with Relativity. Iconic did not originally have a discovery product, but provided machine translation services where that was helpful. That happened often enough for Iconic to decide to build a Relativity connector. There have now been about 50 different iterations of iconic’s applications, either to adapt to changes in Relativity or to improve Iconic’s applications and to add features.

Iconic was originally developed for intellectual property which, as John Tinsley points out, is an area which resembles eDiscovery in that it requires knowledge of large volumes of materials from multiple sources in multiple languages. While Iconic has extended from IP into eDiscovery, Relativity has expanded its reach beyond matters conventionally thought of as discovery. To some extent, they meet in the middle.

The interview ends with John Tinsley’s thoughts on Iconic’s next steps. There are, he says, two broad paths open to Iconic – to move beyond eDiscovery, litigation and regulatory compliance into new areas, or to focus on getting the machine translation as good as it can be. Iconic has opted for the latter. Looking at the history of companies who launched off into new challenges instead of honing their existing technology, I would say that this is the right decision.

Iconic is running a series on online talks, demos and Q&A to coincide with Legalweek. Details are here.

There is an information page about Iconic’s translation platform INTRA here.


About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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