Top Minds Tapped by Translation Task

The past few years have shown that U.S. government intelligence goes only so far. One of the biggest challenges is recognizing vital information in foreign languages — and acting quickly on it. That’s why the military would love software that can listen to TV broadcasts or phone conversations and read Web sites in Arabic and Chinese, translate them into English and summarize the key elements for humans. But each of those steps has long bedeviled computer scientists. Perfecting them and combining them — well, that is “DARPA hard.” That means it’s difficult even by the extreme standards of the Pentagon’s next-generation technology arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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