RealNews

Language tools for fight on terror

Software to allow security officials to better search and translate documents in foreign languages, especially Arabic, has been demonstrated at a technology show in Las Vegas, as Clark Boyd reports. There is an old saying in computing – garbage in, garbage out. And never has the world been so awash in digital garbage. This “needle in a haystack” problem is compounded even further for US intelligence officers on the hunt for, say, Osama Bin Laden. For starters, American intelligence agencies are short on people who are competent in Arabic, or even want to be. “What we’ve seen is that the folks in DC would most like to work in English if they could,” said Steven Cohen of Basis Technology, a US company specialising in text analyzing software. “And there are some outposts where they are still attempting to work with Arabic as if it were English, or convert it to English. That’s not effective. “Our approach is to try to treat a language and deal with it and analyze it and search it in its own script,” he said. Full Story

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