New Initiative META pushes for
Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance
A core component of the European Union is a common market with a single information space that works with two dozens national and many regional languages. This ambitious endeavour is an unprecedented social experiment. If it works, the multicultural union of nations will prosper and serve as a model for the peaceful and egalitarian cooperation of peoples in other parts of the world. If it fails, Europe will be forced to choose between sacrificing cultural identities and economic defeat.
The two major challenges are preserving the European cultural and linguistic diversity in the united information and knowledge society and, securing at affordable costs the free flow of information and thought across language boundaries in the resulting single information space. Economically, these challenges can only be met by employing advanced information technology. While leading experts agree that eventually language technology will be able to support both the survival of lesser-resourced languages in the information society and high quality translation among all human languages, current progress is much too slow.
In order to prevent a competitive disadvantage and to turn European linguistic diversity into an economic asset, a major technology push is needed. Such a large-scale action can only be achieved by a powerful alliance of scientists, technology providers, technology users, language communities, research supporters, and policy makers.
To this end, a new initiative has set out to forge a Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance: META. Starting point is the Network of Excellence META-NET, a federation of thirteen leading R&D centers in ten European countries, dedicated to
- Building a Community with a shared vision and strategic research agenda
- Building an Open Resource Infrastructure
- Building bridges to neighbouring technology fields.
Many other first class centers have expressed interest in joining so that the network will keep growing and eventually cover all countries and languages of the EU. At the same time, industry, language professionals, organisational language technology users and public administrations will be mobilized. The first concrete steps toward the needed joint action are a survey of support and technologies for 23 European languages, the development of a shared vision and the drafting of a strategic research agenda.
Funding for the core network comes from the European Union through the grant Technologies for Multilingual Europe (T4ME).
LT World will support META by serving as the knowledge and information center of the Alliance.