Human Language Technologies in "the communication era":

by Diana Sagarna Martínez

ABSTRACT:

This report ,which has been made as an exercise for the English Language and New Technologies subject, covers  the role of Human language technologies in society. Besides, it also covers  the importance of language technologies in Europe and the contribution of those technologies to the life of human beings. It is  going to be commented the impact and benefits the language engineering has had in different areas or fields too. The source of information is  internet and I will mainly take into account  the web pages provided by the teacher Joseba Abaitua in class. The objective of this report is to make the reader be aware of the advantages of  language technologies and the necessity of those technologies in this "modern era". After all, we are part of this unstoppable machinery that is developing very rapidly.Furthermore, it affects to our basic system of  communication that is "the language". So it is almost imposible to keep away from these new technologies.

Introduction:

The development of in Human Language Technologies  over the last 40 years has  really revolutionased the traditional way of communicating. It is a great improvement that let people communicate each other in a free way. In addition,  the communication is not only possible for people of the same country but also for people from other parts of Europe. So nowadays, the wordlwide communication is possible  thanks to human language technologies, such as internet etc. These developments allow people to communicate in a rapid, secure and effective way without being waiting to the traditional letter that could take it to arrive weeks and weeks . These technologies also help to narrow the relationship with people of different cultural backgrounds. Nowadays, we live in the so called "the communication and information era". Besides, society is very well informed about the things going on either in their country or abroad. So, these technologies are not a passtime but a necessity.

Before beginnig to develop the report, a number of considerations must be made. It is important to clarify a terminological aspect:

"Computational linguistics (CL) focusses on the practical outcome of modelling human language use. The methods, techniques, tools and applications in this area are often subsumed under the term language engineering or (human) language technology. Although existing CL systems are far from achieving human ability, they have numerous possible applications. The goal is to create software products that have some knowledge of human language. Such products are going to change our lives. They are urgently needed for improving human-machine interaction since the main obstacle in the interaction beween human and computer is a communication problem. Today's computers do not understand our language but computer languages are difficult to learn and do not correspond to the structure of human thought. Even if the language the machine understands and its domain of discourse are very restricted, the use of human language can increase the acceptance of software and the productivity of its users." 1996, 2000 Hans Uszkoreit

 http://www.coli.uni-sb.de/~hansu/

In the first part of the report I  try to make clear what human language technologies is and then I also cover why human language technologies is important in Europe. Then, I deal with several aspects referring to human language technologies such as the applications of language technologies, their role in society, the importance of human language technologies in Europe etc.

In the second part of the report I deal with information society. Firstly, I define  what information society is. Then, I show if there is any kind of relation between human language technologies and language engineering.

In the third part and to conclude the report I deal with the Language Engineering.That is, first of all I define what language engineering is. Besides, I cover the impact of language engineering, the benefits of language engineering and much more things.

 

  1.     Human Language technologies:

I will provide several definitions about what human language technologies is.

  1. Human Language Technologies (HLT) enable humans to communicate with computers and to use computers in a more natural way and in their own language, i.e. to participate in the information society in a totally natural way. HLT is particularly important for Europe as no other advanced economic area enjoys a similar cultural and linguistic diversity. The need and ability to use multiple languages in everyday life is an increasingly familiar aspect of business, leisure, government and civil society in the EU and the Candidate Countries. Actually, being able to do business in several languages have become a commercial necessity. "It's a key technology that will drive advances in computing in the next decade. By HYMLCentral,(CLT),Bente Maegaard Co-ordinator for EUROMAP Language Technologies.
  2. Human Language Technologies will help to build bridges across languages and cultures and provide natural access to information and communication services. It will enable an active use and assimilation of multimedia content, and further strengthen Europe's position at the forefront of language-enabled digital services. It will support business activities in a global context and promote a truly human-centred info structure ensuring equal access and usage opportunities for all. The ultimate goal of Human Language Technologies is an optimal use of the human capital, maximising businesses' competitiveness and empowering people. By HYMLCentral,(CLT),Bente Maegaard Co-ordinator for EUROMAP Language Technologies.
  3. Language technology refers to a range of technologies that have been developed over the last 40 years to enable people to more easily and naturally communicate with computers, through speech or text and, when called for, receive an intelligent and natural reply in much the same way as a person might respond. By (E-S.I)

Out of the three definitions given the best one I think it is the second one although the others are not bad. The second definition establishes Human Language technologies as a tool for communicating and as a tool to improve communication among people. According to this definition 1 and 2  Human language technologies are able of improving and support bussiness in a gloval context, which is something very useful and necessary in the world we live nowadays. The possibility of communicating and work with other people worldwide is a very useful development .

Language technologies can also help people communicate with each other. Much older than  communication problems between human beings and machines are those between people with different mother tongues. One of the original aims of language technology has always beenfully automatic translation between human languages. From bitter experience scientists have realized that they are still far away from achieving the ambitious goal of translating unrestricted texts. Nevertheless, they have been able to create software systems that simplify the work of human translators and clearly improve their productivity. Less than perfect automatic translations can also be of great help to information seekers who have to search through largeamounts of texts in foreign languages. The most serious bottleneck for e-commerce is the volume of communication between business and customers or among businesses. Language technology can help to sort, filter and route incoming email. It can also assist the customer relationship agent to look up information and to compose a response. In cases where questions have been answered before, language technology can find appropriate earlier replies and automatically respond. Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Although existing language technologies (LT) systems are far from achieving human ability,they have numerous possible applications.The goal is to create software products that have some knowledge of human language.Such products are going to change our lives.They are urgently needed for improving human-machine interaction since the main obstacle in the interaction between human and computer is merely a communication problem.Today's computers do not understand our language but computer languages are difficult to learn and do not correspond to the structure of human thought.Even if the language the machine understands and its domain of discourse are very restricted,the use of human language can increase the acceptance of software and the productivity of its users.Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Speech recognition

Spoken language is recognized and transformed in into text as in dictation systems,into commands as in robot control systems,or into some other internalrepresentation.Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Speech synthesis

Utterances in spoken language are produced from text (text-to-speech systems)or from internal representations of words or sentences (concept-to-speech systems)Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Text categorization

This technology assigns texts to categories.Texts may belong to more than one category,categories may contain other categories.Filtering is a special case of categorization with just two categories.Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Text Summarization

The most relevant portions of a text are extracted as a summary.The task depends on the needed lengths of the summaries.Summarization is harder if the summary has to be specific to a certain query.Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Text Indexing

As a precondition for document retrieval,texts are are stored in an indexed database.Usually a text is indexed for all word forms or – after lemmatization – for all lemmas.Sometimes indexing is combined with categorization and summarization.Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Text Retrieval

Texts are retrieved from a database that best match a given query or document.The candidate documents are ordered with respect to their expected relevance. Indexing,categorization,summarization and retrieval are often subsumed under the term information retrieval.Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Information Extraction

Relevant information pieces of information are discovered and marked for extraction.The extracted pieces can be: the topic,named entities such as company,place or person names,simple relations such as prices,desti- nations,functions etc.or complex relations describing accidents,company mergers or football matches.Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

Data Fusion and Text Data Mining

Extracted pieces of information from several sources are combined in one database.Previously undetected relationships may be discovered.

These Information Extraction etc, mentioned above are not the only relevant language technologies. In fact, there are more and I am just going to mention them.  Question Answering,Report Generation,Spoken Dialogue Systems and Translation Technologies. Hans Uszkoreit (caché in PDF)

As the investigation and modelling of human language is a truly interdisciplinary endeavor, the methods of language technology come from several disciplines: computer science, computational and theoretical linguistics, mathematics, electrical engineering and psychology.

http://www.dfki.de/~hansu/LT.pdf

The role of Human Language technologies in society:

Many new ways in which the application of telematics ad the use of language technology will benefit our way of life, from interactive entertainment to lifelong learning.

The language technologies will make an indispensable contribution to the success of this information revolution. The availability ad usability of new telematics services will depend on developments in language engineering. Speech recognition will become a standard computer function providing us with the facility to talk to a range of devices, from our cars to our home computers, and to do so in our native language. In turn, these devices will present us the information, at least in part, by generating speech. Multilingual services will also be developed in many areas. http://www.serv-inf.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/echo/infoage.html

Advances in computerised analysis, understanding and generation of written and spoken language are going to revolutionise human-computer interaction and technology mediated person-to-person communication globalisation of economy and society, high-language technologies playa central role. All this according to HTL Central http://www.hltcentral.org/htmlengine.shml?id=55    

DISCUSSION DOCUMENT, LUXEMBURG, JULY 1997

HTL will enable the information society through intuitive, human-centred modes of interaction with products and services. These will include spoken interaction, removing the need for the keyboards and keypads, the use of many different languages to process information and interact with devices  - as well as the ability to communicate across languages barriers. According to HTL Central http://www.hltcentral.org/page-219.shtml

Human Language Technologies activities are relevant to many of the action lines within the thematic programme on the Information society, due to the pervasiveness of human language in information and communication related activities

http://www.hltcentral.org/htmlengine.shml?id=55

DISCUSSION DOCUMENT, LUXEMBOURG, JULY 1997

Why is HLT important for Europe?

HLT plays a unique role in the European Union, due to the unusual cultural conditions that pertain to Europe, both socially and economically. There is no other advanced economic area that enjoys the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe. The 11 official languages of the EU will grow to more than 20 as the next round of Candidate Countries join the Union. There are dozens of additional languages in common use in the Union, including regional languages (such as Catalan and Basque in Spain), non-official national languages (such as Welsh in the UK), and immigrant languages (such as Urdu in the United Kingdom, Maghrebi Arabic in France and Turkish in Germany).

The ability - and willingness - to use multiple languages in everyday life is an increasingly familiar aspect of business, leisure, government and civil society in the EU. This reflects the aspirations of European citizens to integrate, alongside their deeply held respect for locale. Europeans have become increasingly aware that active support for linguistic diversity protects the rights of all citizens to maintain their own languages - not to the exclusion of others, but as part of the common cultural assets of the Union.

The information revolution, therefore, brings particular challenges to the EU. In an increasingly dense information environment - for citizens and consumers, governments and businesses - language transparency becomes vital. If all citizens across the expanded Union are to participate fully in the information society, the products and services of that society must be available in all their languages. If Europe is to operate successfully as a single market, and if the goals of the eEurope vision are to be achieved, those products and services must be delivered cross-lingually, making it as easy to move across languages as it is across borders.

From another point of view, the language challenge in Europe will almost certainly prove to be an advantage for the EU. As the EUROMAP Study confirms, many of the products and services of the information society will be built on core HLT components. The importance of HLT goes well beyond the obvious, and penetrates into the deepest layers of the Internet and the web, where the ability to process the components of language - coding knowledge and intelligence into the information infrastructure - will be the basis for next-generation technology.

The EU has already established its credentials as the most advanced research location in the HLT field. The very difficulty of developing HLT for many languages gives European researchers and technology developers a natural advantage in one of the most crucial technologies for the next generation of information and communication technology. As a consequence, commitment to the future of HLT in Europe is perhaps most important for the contribution it will make to the strength of the European ICT sector. A study by Booz-Allen & Hamilton, The Competitiveness of Europe’s ICT Markets: The Crisis Amid the Growth (presented at the Ministerial Conference in March, 2000) documents the challenges to Europe’s global competitive position in several key segments of ICT, including software. A recent study by The Conference Board, Productivity, ICT and Service Industries: Europe and the United States, assesses the impact of ICT on productivity. Europe’s productivity gap in ICT-using industries, especially services, is notable. Thus the EU faces competitive challenges in ICT from both supply and demand perspectives.

HLT is a 'small' technology in pure market terms, but its potential impact - on accessibility, innovation, and integration - is significant, and its crucial role in unlocking the potential for eEurope is unchallenged. The EUROMAP Study explores how HLT research fits into the larger picture of advanced technologies for the future of eEurope. It demonstrates the important role of HLT in new paradigms for next-generation ICT, and outlines suggestions for integrating HLT into the emerging European Research Area.

 http://www.hltcentral.org/ -1089.0.shtml.

 

    II    What is information society?

We understand by information society a society in which people interact with technology as an important part of life and social organization to exchange information on a global scale. In addition,the term refers to the new socio-economic and technological paradigm likely to occur, as a result of an all-embracing process of change that is currently taking place.It is also a society where the creation and exchange of information is the predominant social and economic activity
highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0767421906/student_view0/chapter2/glossary.html
is4all.ics.forth.gr/html/definitions.html
www.nrcan.gc.ca/cfs-scf/science/prodserv/kmglossary_e.html

The last few years have witnessed a transformation in the industrial landscape of the developed world. Telecommunications liberalisation, the explosive growth of the Internet and the increasingly networked nature of business and society all point to one thing - the birth of the Information Society (IS). http://europa.eu.int/information_society/index_en.htm

Developing a successful European Information Society is at the very heart of the EU's "Lisbon Goal" of becoming the world's most dynamic and competitive economy by 2010.

By its very nature, the Information Society cuts across traditional boundaries. This thematic portal is therefore a guide through all relevant EU policies and activities, looking at:

This portal is the pilot project for "EUROPA 2nd Generation", so these themes cover all EU Information Society policies and activities, irrespective of the internal Commission department (Directorate General, or "DG") responsible for them - see About This Portal.

    So, by the information given above we can correctly state that Europe is concerned with Human Language technologies. The overall objective of HLT is to support e-business in a global context and to promote a human centred info structure ensuring equal access and usage opportunities for all. This is to be achieved by developing multilingual technologies and demonstrating exemplary applications providing features and functions that are critical for the realisation of a truly user friendly Information Society. Projects address generic and applied RTD from a multi- and cross-lingual perspective, and undertake to demonstrate how language specific solutions can be transferred to and adapted for other languages. In addition, Human Language technologies aims to further strengthen Europe's position at the forefront of language-enabled systems and services. It will help bring the information society closer to the citizen by "humanising" information and communication services, and demonstrate the economic impact of language enabled applications in key sectors, notably those addressed by the Information Society Technologies (IST) programme. Besides, HLT Opportunity Promotion in Europe – EUROMAP aims to provide awareness, bridge-building and market-enabling services to boost opportunities for market take-up of the results of national and European HLT RTD projects. The key focus is on accelerating the rate of technology transfer from the research base to the market by creating communities of interest from established and emerging players in the development and value chain.The project is currently implemented by a team of 8 National Focal Points (NFPs) in Austria, Belgium/Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain. NFPs from other countries will be encouraged to join the project as it develops over its 2 year lifetime, extending HOPE's geography and skills base to cover a broader range of countries and sectors. Each NFP will draw on the skills and knowledge gained in previous HLT awareness-raising actions to achieve the following objectives:

EUROMAP will initially focus on the national level, and then extend to cross-border activities, including accession countries. The project will publish all its results and project-related information on this web site.

Let’s say that the developments in Human Language Technologies are a great improvement to let people communicate to each other, not only people of the same country but also people from other parts of Europe. These developments such as the creation of internet allow people to communicate in a rapid, secure and effective way without being waiting to the traditional letter. These technologies also help to narrow the relationship with European people.

 A very interesting question that arises when we deal with ´Human Language Technologies is  the following:

Does the notion of "Information Society" have any relation to Human Language?

We have to say that information society does have relation to Human Language. The information society is based in the kind of developments such as the e-mail; internet; media-machines etc. The Human language is a very complex system which cannot very successfully be reproduce in an easily way. There are attempts to make the computers fully understand the Human Language (and not only some words); there are also attempts to make machines respond in intelligently to peoples´ questions, doubts etc. As Mairéad Browne states, "it can be said that there is a generally optimistic response to the idea of the Information Society and it is mostly enthusiastically endorsed as desirable. Many go further and say that it is absolutely essential for nations and regions to become an Information Society. There are, however, many conceptions of the Information Society which means that there is an ambiguous foundation for policy makers. Added to this is the complexity of different political philosophies which impact on implementation of information policy.This complexity is further compounded when we start to look at the informational component of the Information Society."

Information by Mairéad Browne (Paper by Mairéad Browne - caché)

Now I am going to deal with Language engineering which is part of huma language technologies. First of all it is important to know what  language technologies is. So we have the following question:

III   What is Language Engineering ?

Language Engineering is the application of knowledge of language to the development of computer systems which can recognise, understand, interpret, and generate human language in all its forms. In practice, Language Engineering comprises a set of techniques and language resources. The former are implemented in computer software and the latter are a repository of knowledge which can be accessed by computer software. http://sirio.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/langeng.htm

Language technologies can be applied to a wide range of problems in business and administration to produce better, more effective solutions. They can also be used in education, to help the disabled, and to bring new services both to organisations and to consumers. There are a number of areas where the impact is significant:

taken from: http://sirio.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/langeng.htm

Language Engineering is applied at two levels. At the first level there are a number of generic classes of application, such as:

taken from: http://sirio.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/langeng.htm

At the second level, these enabling applications are applied to real world problems across the social and economic spectrum. So, for example:

In general, language capability is embedded in systems to enhance their performance. Language Engineering is an 'enabling technology'.

taken from: http://sirio.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/langeng.htm

The benefits to be gained from successful Language Engineering are immense. We have the

taken from: http://sirio.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/langeng.htm

 The basic processes of Language Engineering are broadly concerned with:

taken from: http://sirio.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/langeng.htm

The Impact of Language Engineering

Language technologies can be applied to a wide range of problems in business and administration to produce better, more effective solutions. They can also be used in education, to help the disabled, and to bring new services both to organisations and to consumers. There are a number of areas where the impact is significant:

So, even if we think at first sight that language engeenering is just  the application of knowledge of language to the development of computer systems and that only has to do with communicaring with each other it also covers as I hace mentioned before a wide area such as education, global maeket etc where language engineering has a great impact and a lot of to do.   

taken from: http://sirio.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/langeng.htm

Other areas where Language Engineering contributes or takes part:

Finally,Language Engineering will make a contribution in a large number of public interest areas. Intelligence gathering for law enforcement is an interesting case. In detecting smuggling for example, there is a large amount of information available from public or commercial sources which, if collated and presented in the right way, can give clear indications of suspicious activity. Details about ship movements, manifests and company information can highlight abnormal profiles of activity. The ability of language based analysis to produce these profiles is an important aid.

taken from: http://sirio.deusto.es/abaitua/konzeptu/nlp/langeng.htm

Conclusions

The making up of the report has made me realise about the important discoveries that are being made in the field of language. In addition, I have noticed the importance of investigating in the field of technilogies related to the human language.

It is not surprasing to meet people who have no  idea of what human language technologies or language engineering are.But  they surely will know about the advantages of using internet etc.On the other hand, those people who have phisical disability are proveded with tools that make them possible things that they couldn´t otherwise do.For instance for blind people who attend to classes  is a great development the idea of having a machine that can record what the teacher is telling with  the possibility of hearing  later on again  what the teacher has explained. This is precisely what language technologies and language engineering try to achieve.                    

So, it is crutial to work on these technologies not to create boundaries and let the communication freely flow.  I think, people should be aware of this very interesting  world, the world of language technologies indeed.

References

for EUROMAP Language Technologies.and (E-S.I).