This story is from the category Artificial Intelligence
Date posted: 06/06/2010
European scientists have developed groundbreaking technology to enable machine translation using statistical analysis. Now linguistic diversity can be found in translation.
We live in a global village, and its name is Babel. As information and communication technologies unite the world into a global village, so the diversity of our global linguistic landscape creates new barriers. The smaller the world becomes the larger the language barrier looms.
Europe is an excellent example in microcosm. Political and social cooperation draw the diverse peoples of Europe ever-closer together, but language often separates them. Fully one half of the European population is incapable of conversing in a second language.
The issue is even starker on the World Wide Web, where English has become the lingua franca. But that status quo is under threat as China and India ramp up their scientific and engineering expertise and simultaneously produce more and more essential information in their native languages. How can we help people communicate now, and how can we overcome the emerging language barriers of the future?
The SMART project believes it has the answer. SMART stands for Statistical Multilingual Analysis for Retrieval and Translation, and the project sought to make statistical methods a viable alternative to current paradigms. In just three years the project has made the technology a robust alternative.
Machine translation is not new. In fact it is one of the oldest problems in computer science. ?It was one of the first problems tackled, with work starting in the 1950s,? notes Nicola Cancedda, researcher with Xerox and coordinator of the SMART project.
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