I'll keep this as short as possible so as to get to the meat.
Hanging around ATS I have developed an interest in what DARPA is up to. DARPA themselves make this pretty easy as they are lately known for
'out-sourcing' their projects as they try to garner the best talent for their research, and plenty of
out there have lists of DARPA project descriptions just because they
are so damned interesting.
Hang with me, I have to get through a few details. So NLP (Natural Language
) is a huge part of these DARPA projects and some of you may remember that NLP is what is behind
. Fun, right?
What I want to share with you today is this video produced by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). It is about technology that NIST
developed for a DARPA project called TRANSTAC (Spoken Language and TRANSlation System For Tactical Use) that uses NLP to help soldiers translate
languages in war zones.
I also want to share with you how I find this particular application of this technology, and the accompanying introduction video to be shamefully
misguided. I also hope to express that this video and the ethos that drives it represents some of the standard disinformation that we are fed on a
regular basis and I hope this short thread will help to deconstruct it a bit. I will get to that at the end but keep it in mind as we watch the crew
from the U.S.S. Enterprise...
You saw that, right? The way the soldier asks the phone to ask the driver for his I.D.
And then the ridiculous Siri-like delay and *plink*, it translates in to Pashto? And of course you saw him ask the phone to ask the 'native'
('creature', as you will see) to see inside its truck?
OK? Folks? Who in an occupied war zone does not understand, "I need to see your I.D" or "I need to look in the truck" or "Get the # down!"
I can imagine such a thing could be useful during a long term occupation but there is just something about the process shown in the video that just
magnifies the degradation. There is something in it that just insults the human spirit. People know when they are being crushed under the thumb,
"But let me pull out my smart phone so i can show you how convenient it is to keep you under our thumbs"
, know what I mean?
Spock: "It simply translates its findings in to English"
Jump Suit Guy: "You mean it speaks?"
James Tiberius Kirk: "With a voice (flippantly), or the approximation of whatever the creature is 'sending' in"
Star Trek: The Metamorphosis
Ah, there we go with the creature
again. Yeah, it translates to whatever those people
are speaking in.
So, I just wanted to take a moment, to be an armchair DARPA critic and say, nice try DARPA, but it just makes it worse. I was really surprised that
some public relations person let the Star Trek 'creature' thing fly.
Anyhow, folks, I think that the most interesting thing, more than the usual 'they are aliens' disinformation that seems to permeate our military
executive culture, is the NLP.
It's huge and getting huger (more huge) and will be one of the biggest tools at our disposal for understanding ourselves, our societies and how to
make them better. Human happiness could be greatly increased by its application, but it has to be used for good by the right people.
If you want to read more, check wiki and here is an article that I am enjoying presently...
Historic Paradigm Shifts or Shift-Enablers
A series of discoveries and developments over the past years has resulted in major shifts in the discipline of Natural Language Processing.
Some have been more influential than others, but each is recognizable today as having had major impact, although this might not have been seen at the
time. Some have been shift-enablers, rather than actual shifts in
methods or approaches, but these have caused as major a change in how the discipline accomplishes its work.
edit on 16-1-2013 by Xoanon because: