The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is — it must be something you cannot possibly do.
Since the beginning of class distinctions between groups of people, one of the main ways that the powerful have maintained their power is through their privileged access to information and their control over the dissemination of information. The two previous major information revolutions, the invention of writing and the invention of printing, expanded access to information and greatly facilitated the distribution of information, but they did little to change the fundamental disparities.
For many digital utopianists, the latest information revolution holds out the promise of a new democratization of information and knowledge: information would be accessible to everyone everywhere, and anyone anywhere could create and disseminate information to others. While many people have obviously made gains in both of these capacities, the gains have been very uneven. In fact the information divide that has always separated the more powerful from the less powerful has increased if anything; this is the so-called Digital Divide. Another hoped-for benefit of the Digital Revolution, discussed less often, would be new ways for people to protect themselves from deceptive forms of information, to help them read critically. Again, however, the powerful, with their control of the major media and access to sophisticated techniques for manipulating information consumers, remain in a privileged position.
We believe that there is still hope of achieving some of these goals, of harnessing technology in the service of the democratization of information and knowledge. Our work focuses on the application of concepts and techniques from the field of Human Language Technology to this end. Our projects are really just beginning, but our long-term goals address the problems discussed above. We are currently focusing on ways to facilitate processing of some of the disadvantaged languages of the Global South, including morphological analysis, computer-assisted language learning, and machine translation into these languages.
"HLTDI" needs more vowels to be pronounceable. Using the second letters of the first three words, you get: HuLaTeDI. Here's an icon/mascot to serve as a mnemonic.
©Indiana University and Michael Gasser
Last updated 2013-05-30