This post is made based on the inquiry of a friend, but I found the concept so interesting I thought I would throw in my two cents.

We know the armed forces and the intelligence gathering community have experienced a serious shortage of interpreters. I won’t go into the reasons or the targets, but lets just say it is so, and if you want to do the research to validate the argument, then so be it. Instead of turning to training, it looks as though the powers that be are turning instead to technology.

DARPA, the Defence Advanced Research Projects Administration, is developing an electronic interpreter of their own. They are calling it GALE, for Global Autonomous Language Exploitation, and it is no fairy tale (like so many large projects the government cooks up).

A number of private organizations, including IBM, and R & D facilities at several major universities, have been working on speech-to-text technology for some time. Most of the existing commercial applications reside in call centers and simple voicemail applications, but there have been major advances in the past few years, primarily because of advancing computing horsepower (along with falling prices). Speech-to-text applications are CPU intensive, to say the least.

While the Pentagon’s research arm has seen its share of flops (remember The Policy Analysis Market), along with a pack of other technology projects in the bureaucrats’ hands, I am going to bet this one is a go, and for a few simple reasons. First, it isn’t going to directly piss off any civil liberties groups. Second, it should result in substantial efficiencies (not that any cost savings won’t be blown on some other stupid project, but that is besides the point). And last, they don’t have to start from scratch.

Read this article from the Red Herring for more details: DARPA Builds a Chatter Machine.

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