Tool kit would work for every language (all 7,000 of them)

U.S. forces arriving in foreign lands bring all kinds of communications equipment with them for sharing voice, video, imagery and other data. But that equipment allows them to talk to each other. In some circumstances, particularly in disaster relief and other emergency responses, effective operations also rely on talking to the locals. And that can be a problem.

Considering the global reach of the military and its willingness to respond to disasters, health crises and other incidents, it’s not uncommon that they arrive without the ability to speak the local language. Human translators aren’t always available, and computer translators don’t cover all of the world’s languages, especially those that are rare.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to get around the dilemma with a system that would find and interpret elements that rare languages—what it calls low-resource languages—have in common to offer a basic understanding. The Low Resource Languages for Emergent Incidents, or LORELEI, program isn’t looking to comprehensively translate those languages, DARPA said, but to “provide situational awareness by identifying and correlating elements of information in foreign-language and English sources.”

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