Trends affecting the LT environment

The technology drivers that push for change and the customer needs that demand change are potential opportunities or threats for LT depending on what technology you happen to be betting on or whose rights you happen to be defending. Some of them can be seen both as technology drivers and customer needs that affect LT products and applications even if they do not affect LT as such. It is therefore not entirely clear whether they should be seen as driving or pushing forces if we look at them purely from a LT perspective. However, we can agree that they are all trends that will shape the LT environment whether we like them or not.

Important trends (some of them overlapping with different points of emphasis) are only listed below, because their implications are topics of investigation on their own.

Technology drivers

  • Open Source tools for developing and maintaining language resources such as corpora, lexicons, rule sets or language models
  • Network Technology for virtual networks and web applications
  • Content Management using meta data and the semantic web
  • Statistical Machine Learning techniques for efficient and adaptive knowledge acquisition and representation.
  • Multimodal Systems that integrate language technology with pattern recognition and machine vision.
  • Digital Archiving making all documents from libraries and archives available online.
  • Embedded Software enables new interface solutions where LT, especially speech recognition and speech synthesis, can play a role in gadgets or clothing.
  • Hardware Development, notably memory size and processor speed, makes more advanced language technology solutions possible, in more contexts.
  • Automated Public Information Services, monolingual or multilingual, for fully functional or disabled persons
  • Merging of Media: television, telephony and other media through IP.
  • Distributed Data Storage (over the net), as well as the possibilities for wider and easier access (e.g., through mobile devices).

Customer needs

  • Tacit Knowledge Growth creating a need to share and maintain increasing amounts of corporate knowledge
  • Continued Globalization requiring multilingual solutions
  • Process Speed-Up demanding automated production procedures and a shifting of manual production efforts to quality control
  • Social Needs for empowerment and cooperation, i.e. individually having full control of key resources and procedures in the work environment while cooperating in a team
  • Efficient Communication in business and media create a demand for language maintenance and control tools
  • Information Access through search will require LT, both due to information overload and to reduce/eliminate the effects of the digital divide.
  • eService Society with the majority of information from local national governments accessible via the web and reduced availability of human assistance.
  • Needs of the public system and media houses (with responsibility for or interest in providing information to all) to level the playing field between accomplished readers and writers on the one hand and those with less experience on the other.
  • Machine Translation between Nordic languages and English
  • European Integration requires multilingual solutions.
  • Need for Voice Operated Devices both amongst fully functional and disabled persons
  • Management of Large-Scale Resources: digital speech, text, image and video corpora
  • Aging Population will put new demands on LT services for increased life quality.
  • Language Learning will require LT support for training.
  • Cultural Needs to express one's identity through language.
  • Public Service Access and Supply using multilingual, cross-lingual and multimodal interfaces.

-- KristerLinden - 12 Jun 2006

Topic revision: r1 - 2006-06-12 - KristerLinden
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