SRI International has been awarded a $7.1 million contract for Phase 1 of a five-year, $41.5 million Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract under DARPA’s Broad Operational Language Translation program. BOLT is an international research initiative to develop breakthrough language technologies.
“Machine translation technology has made major progress over the past decade,” said Jing Zheng, Ph.D., leader of SRI’s BOLT initiative and program director in SRI’s Speech Technology and Research Laboratory. “Now we will work on fundamental breakthroughs to move from memorizing the surface forms of language to understanding the underlying meanings.”
SRI will lead research activities with the goal of developing systems that accurately translate foreign languages and extract information regardless of genre and media. These technologies are intended to facilitate bilingual conversations with instant interpretation and automatic clarification.
The SRI-led BOLT team includes researchers and engineers from Columbia University’s Engineering School, Queens College City University of New York, University of Edinburgh, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology R&D Corporation Limited, Estuate Incorporated, Oregon Health & Sciences University, University of Washington, University of Rochester, University of Massachusetts, Aix-Marseille University/National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and University of Texas at Dallas.
SRI has a strong record of delivering breakthrough technologies in artificial intelligence and complex language-processing systems for DARPA. Decades of SRI research in artificial intelligence, including leadership of the largest known artificial intelligence project in U.S. history, led to the development of the groundbreaking virtual personal assistant technology called Siri. Siri was acquired from SRI by Apple in 2010.
SRI’s speech and translation work includes research under DARPA’s Global Autonomous Language Exploitation (GALE) program to develop computer software that translates and analyzes huge volumes of speech and text in multiple languages, and under the Spoken Language Communication and Translation System for Tactical Use (TRANSTAC) program to enable two-way communication between U.S. warfighters and speakers of other languages.
To achieve the objectives of the BOLT program, SRI researchers will build upon many of the linguistic resources and technologies developed for the GALE and TRANSTAC programs.