Questionnaire 1: What is Human Language Technology? (Expert opinions) (I)

Now that we have a general idea of what Human Language Technology (HLT) is, we are going to quote some definitions on this very same topic that relevant scholars and institutions have previously published in order to clarify our concepts

Human-machine interaction

Human-machine interaction

The first definition that we are going to present was given by one of the most important researchers in the field of computational linguistics: Hans Uszkoreit, professor at the Saarland University and head of the Language Technology Lab at the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). In an article entitled “Language Technology: a first overview” Mr. Uszkoreit explained what Human Language Technology is in the following terms:

“Language technologies are information technologies that are specialized for dealing with the most complex information medium in our world: human language. […] Although existing LT systems are far from achieving human ability, they have numerous possible applications. The goal is to create software products that have some knowledge of human language. They are urgently needed for improving human-machine interaction since the main obstacle in the interaction between human and computer is merely a communication problem.

Natural language interfaces enable the user to communicate with the computer in French, English, German, or another human language. Communication with computers using spoken language will have a lasting impact upon the work environment […]. The ultimate goal of research is the omnipresent access to all kinds of technology and to the global information structure by natural interaction. In an ambitious but not too far-fetched scenario, language technology provides the interface to an ambient intelligence providing assistance at work and in many situations of daily life. […]

Language technologies can also help people communicate with each other. Much older than communication problems between human beings and machines are those between people with different mother tongues. One of the original aims of language technology has always been fully automatic translation between human languages. […]

For browsing, navigating, filtering and processing the information on the web, we need software that can get at the contents of documents. Language technology for content management is a necessary precondition for turning the wealth of digital information into collective knowledge. The increasing multilinguality of the web constitutes an additional challenge for language technology.”

As you can see, Human Language Technology (also known as Natural Language Processing) is gaining importance everyday and in a near future we will all benefit from the software developed by these researchers.


(Note: in the future this article could be modified several times in order to include more up-to-date information.)

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March 2009


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