Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: May 20, 2021, 6:50 a.m. Humanist 35.31 - pubs: The Dawn of the Human-Machine Era

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 31.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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        Date: 2021-05-19 09:09:32+00:00
        From: David Zeitlyn <>
        Subject: 'The Dawn of the Human-Machine Era': Forecast report on new and emerging language technologies

[From:   Dave Sayers (dave.sayers@CANTAB.NET)]

The 'human-machine era' is coming soon: a time when technology is integrated
with our senses, not confined to mobile devices. The hardware will move from our
hands into our eyes and ears. Intelligent eyewear and earwear will be able to
translate another person's words, and make it look and sound like they were
talking to you in your language. Technology will mediate what we see, hear and
say, in real time. In addition, we will be having increasingly complex
conversations with smart devices.

This is not science fiction or marketing hype. These devices are currently in
prototype, set for widespread consumer adoption in the coming years. All this
will disrupt and transform our use and understanding of language use. Are we

A new EU 'COST Action' ( research network 'Language in the
Human-Machine Era' (LITHME), with members from 52 countries, explores how such
technological advances are likely to change our everyday communication, and
ultimately language itself. As a first major collaborative effort, LITHME has
published an open access report 'The Dawn of the Human-Machine Era: A Forecast
of New and Emerging Language Technologies':

Accessible to a wide audience, the report brings together insights from
specialists in the fields of language technology and linguistic research.

The forecast report was authored by 52 researchers, and edited by LITHME's Chair
Dave Sayers (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), Vice-Chair Sviatlana Höhn
(University of Luxembourg), and the Chair of LITHME's Computational Linguistics
working group Rui Sousa Silva (University of Porto, Portugal). It describes the
current state and probable futures of various language technologies – for
written, spoken, haptic and signed modalities of language.

The publication is intended to be both authoritative and accessible, aimed at
language and technology professionals but also policymakers and the wider
public. It describes how a range of new technologies will soon transform the way
we use language, while discussing the software powering these advances behind
the scenes, as well as consumer devices like Augmented Reality eyepieces and
immersive Virtual Reality spaces. The report also shines a light on critical
issues such as inequality of access to technologies, privacy and security, and
new forms of deception and crime.

It is a result of unique collaboration, as LITHME brings together people from
different directions in language research who would not otherwise meet or
collaborate. LITHME has eight thematic working groups<
groups/>; and members from each working group have contributed to the report.

Please share this message with anyone who may be interested, and please retweet
us here:

LITHME is a 4-year networking project, funded by the European Cooperation in
Science and Technology (COST). It started in October 2020 and currently has
members from all 27 EU states plus 25 other countries from every continent. The
network seeks to bridge the gap between linguists and technology experts, so the
former can benefit from better technological foresight, and the latter from
better understanding of potential linguistic and societal consequences of
emerging technologies.

Find out more about LITHME's activities: And follow us on

All the best,

Dr. Dave Sayers, ORCID no. 0000-0003-1124-7132
Senior Lecturer & Docent, Dept Language & Communication Studies, U. Jyväskylä,
Finland |<>
Chair, EU COST Action CA19102 'Language in the Human-Machine Era' |<>
Founder & Moderator, TeachLing |<> |

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