AI For Culture

Languages are dying all over the world. Unesco’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger lists hundreds as critically endangered, with thousands more categorised as endangered or threatened. It is predicted that between 50% and 90% of endangered languages will disappear by next century.

There are close to 7,000 languages spoken around the world, but sadly, every two weeks a language dies with its last speaker. Can technology help?

“One of the biggest challenges when adding new languages is obtaining enough bilingual data needed to train and produce a machine translation model.” This data includes high-quality human-translated content both in the source and target languages. For endangered languages, this bilingual data is hard to acquire.

Recent advances in AI have enabled inclusion of low resource (i.e., having less training data), and often endangered, languages and dialects such as Tibetan, Assamese etc.

Of the 100+ languages supported by Microsoft’s #Azure#AI, several native dialects preferred by a smaller population are included.

So Microsoft Edge can now translate whole web pages. But, can developers use this? Yes!

Azure Cognitive Services Translator, powered by Microsoft Translator, helps bring AI to scale. By means of simple API calls, Cognitive Services makes it possible for organizations to communicate with customers, partners and employees across language barriers.

When a community retains a language, it retains its identity. It retains its culture and heritage.

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