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Government MT Users

This post is by Michelle Vanni @amtaweb.org

Features of machine translation (MT) implementations and project efforts in official settings, regardless of jurisdiction, are guided by at least three attributes common to administration of authority.

Fact-based Decision-making

The first is the expectation of fact-based decision-making. Demands for MT in government settings are–due to state needs for information from unofficial sources in different languages–most often characterized as MT for assimilation. Yet, there also exist civil, defense and economic requirements to create precise versions of crucial source language (SL) documents, such as international agreements, treaties and legally binding certificates, in many varied target languages (TL).  These are government functions that motivate the development of MT for dissemination as well.

Market Drivers

The absence of a market driver is another factor.  In industry, companies and financial institutions may base their plans for MT resourcing on the bright, say manufacturing, prospects of a given country, whose language’s handling they want their MT technology investments to address.  By contrast, the interest of governance is served by global concerns of an orthogonal nature.  Whether they be defensive, political, medical or humanitarian, state responsibilities entail first the health and welfare of the populace.  Hence, government MT resourcing necessarily focuses on languages of the countries that may threaten that welfare.  Increasingly, in recent years, those countries host communities speaking languages of low diffusion, resources for which are scarce.

Scope and Simultaneous Demands

Lastly, the broad scope, the timely responses required, and the many, often simultaneous demands levied on government decision-makers conspire to create a singularly focused environment.  To process information in multiple languages under these conditions, MT must not only be equipped with specialized glossary, jargon and name recognition modules but also incorporated into workflows which handle text variety and volume at effective rates of speed, or velocities.  In other words, MT for government analysts must be adaptive, with specialized modules, as well as integrated into workflows of enabling technologies which address the conditions in which language and information analysts access it.  The domains, genres and medium-based registers in which institutions must operate, so as effectively to govern, combine in unpredictable ways to constitute, in effect, their own language varieties.  This unique fusion of diversity of language use, topic areas in its purview, and need for contemporaneous handling of several perspectives on many situations constitutes the third of the attributes affecting the resourcing of MT for Government Analysts.

Example Deployments and Initiatives

Cybertrans, Language Now, Systran Government Enterprise licenses, NMEC, NVTC approaches–those translating in regular dialogue with developers. Successful deployment of MT systems into government operations usually requires an avid proponent within the analyst community. This was the case with Cybertrans effort as well as the NMEC effort. Programs:  Army MFLTS, JUONS, MNSTC (Eng-Dari, Eng-Pashto) Research Initiatives:  DARPA MADCAT-K, DIA CACI MJ..-K BOLT, DEFT, Content Understanding, IARPA BABEL, Army MURI in the MT of Low Resource Languages [[CMU LTI, USC ISI, UT, MIT]]


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