The Future European Multilingual Information Society

author: Joseph Mariani, Computer Sciences Laboratory for Mechanics and Engineering Sciences (LIMSI), National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
published: Jan. 9, 2012,   recorded: June 2011,   views: 2574

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This vision of a European Multilingual Information Society at the 2020 horizon, made possible by the availability of enabling Language Technologies (LTs), results from the thoughts of 3 Vision Groups on Translation and Localization, Information Services and Media and Interactive Systems, created within META-NET Those groups gathered more than 100 key researchers and industrials in a series of meetings along a 9-month period.

While languages are a cultural asset for Europe, it appears that the language barrier is an obstacle for the circulation of goods and ideas, in Europe and elsewhere. LTs are mandatory to overcome the issue of multilingualism. They are already successfully used in many different application areas, which represent a large market.

LTs may help suppressing the language barriers, bring natural interaction in intelligent environments for the elderly, permit accessibility to people with disabilities, facilitate the integration of migrants, provide personal information services, allow for global cooperation and communication, facilitate social media networking, increase security of people and data, and bring natural interaction in the future trends of applications, such as ubiquitous communication, 3D immersive environments and autonomous robots and agents.

Multilingualism is specifically important for the European Union, with its 23 official languages and its regional languages, while there exists no large program that address the issue, compared to what India or South Africa implemented for developing LTs to process their national languages.

The LT market is difficult to estimate as the technologies are embedded in various systems and many applications. Large companies such as Google or Microsoft devote a large effort in this area and already provide some intermediary solutions to the users.

Based on this analysis, we propose three visions, aiming at developing a Language Transparent Web and Media, at providing a more Natural and Inclusive Interaction and at allowing for more Efficient Information Management.

Those LT visions will feed a Strategic Research Agenda, in the horizon of 2020.

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