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- Scientists Create Automated 'Time Machine' to Reconstruct Ancient Languages -

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posted on Feb, 23 2013 @ 07:17 PM

Ancient languages hold a treasure trove of information about the culture, politics and commerce of millennia past. Yet, reconstructing them to reveal clues into human history can require decades of painstaking work. Now, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have created an automated "time machine", of sorts that will greatly accelerate and improve the process of reconstructing hundreds of ancestral languages...

...In a compelling example of how "big data" and machine learning are beginning to make a significant impact on all facets of knowledge, researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of British Columbia have created a computer program that can rapidly reconstruct "proto-languages" -- the linguistic ancestors from which all modern languages have evolved...

...The research team's computational model uses probabilistic reasoning... reconstruct more than 600 Proto-Austronesian languages from an existing database of more than 140,000 words, replicating with 85 percent accuracy what linguists had done manually...

... Not only will this program speed up the ability of linguists to rebuild the world's proto-languages on a large scale... ...but it can also provide clues to how languages might change years from now...

...Using an algorithm known as the Markov chain Monte Carlo sampler, the program sorted through sets of cognates, words in different languages that share a common sound, history and origin, to calculate the odds of which set is derived from which proto-language. At each step, it stored a hypothesized reconstruction for each cognate and each ancestral language.

"Because the sound changes and reconstructions are closely linked, our system uses them to repeatedly improve each other," Klein said. "It first fixes its predicted sound changes and deduces better reconstructions of the ancient forms. It then fixes the reconstructions and re-analyzes the sound changes. These steps are repeated, and both predictions gradually improve as the underlying structure emerges over time."

Scientists Create Automated "Time Machine" to Reconstruct Ancient Languages

Secondary Source

I thought this was very interesting and I know many of the members here have a good appreciation for the work that goes into revealing our ancient past and what our present foundation was built upon.

Most of this stuff is over my head, so maybe some of you can break it down to a 3rd-4th grade level (I am an educated man, but I have been retarded back to the 3rd grade as a result of watching CNN and Fox)

I know it's not really a time machine, but wouldn't it be cool to see linguists use a time machine to go back in time and take 'Language Classes'?

It seems this will take much of the workload off scientists who work to translate the ancient languages, allowing them to make much more progress in the same period of time. Looks like another nice tool to help advance the overall knowledge of our past, present, and, potentially, our future.

posted on Feb, 23 2013 @ 07:25 PM
reply to post by esteay812

probabilistic reasoning

That means it will base it's information on it's programmer. Who is it's programmer ?

posted on Feb, 23 2013 @ 07:30 PM
Covered here:

posted on Feb, 26 2013 @ 02:31 AM


This topic and thread has been chosen to be discussed by the ATS LIVE crew this Saturday night between 6-9pm pst (9-12 est) as part of this weeks exciting "Turbo Topics" segment (if time allows us). We appreciate your time, research and effort in the posting of this subject.

We are running 256kbps through the ATS Player but we now run a 32kbps stream for those of you with slower connections and there are also options to listen via other players on our relay site at Illustrial Website. You can also connect to the low bandwidth stream by clicking here to listen to the ATSLive Radio Show on ShoutCast

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Hope you'll listen in to the show!

posted on Feb, 26 2013 @ 09:35 PM
reply to post by JohnnyAnonymous

I will most definitely be checking out the broadcast!

To the other members who have visited the thread and thought it was dead, I apologize for the lack of on-going activity.

When someone posted the info was already authored on ATS, I thought the thread may be closed or all members would direct comments to the other thread.

I think there are members who look at every 'New Thread' as they are listed in the firehose, then search ATS solely to be able to derail a thread or give themselves a false sense of authority.

I am sure there are some members who see previous threads on the subject and they have good intentions, but in this case - and probably many other instances - informing me of the other thread caused limited/no participation from me or other members. That is ashame too, because this is an interesting topic.

From here on out, if it doesn't say, 'Site Moderator', 'Super Mod', or 'Site Owner', etc., I will be ignoring any equal member who comments only to say there is another thread - which they most likely never read either!

Hopefully other members will learn a lesson, realizing ATS Site Staff know how to do their job and need absolutely zero 'assistance' from common, non-staff, members... I know I have learned that lesson for sure!

Thanks for hooking us up with some added attention for this interesting topic, it'll be nice to see where it goes!

posted on Feb, 27 2013 @ 04:49 PM
Actually, they're right. It's been covered before. I hadn't seen this one before Johnny got here or I would have closed and redirected it.

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