Scientific Foresight (STOA) By / January 9, 2017

STOA Workshop ‘Can technology help remove language barriers in Europe?’

Workshop hashtag: #LanguageTech STOA website & registration Live-streaming  Written by Zsolt G. Pataki with Bianca A. Schranz Multilingualism is an essential…


Workshop hashtag: #LanguageTech

STOA website & registration


 Written by Zsolt G. Pataki with Bianca A. Schranz

Multilingualism is an essential feature of the European Union and respect of linguistic diversity one of its fundamental values: there are 24 official languages and more than 60 regional and minority languages. However, persisting or increasing language barriers are likely to have significant social and economic consequences, such as fostering a language divide, hampering workers’ mobility, hindering access to cross-border public services, reducing citizens’ engagement, and creating fragmented markets. Promoting an English monolingual policy in the EU would exclude 60% of the European population.

Discovering the language of birds

The objective of the STOA (Science and Technology Options Assessment) project on ‘Language equality in the digital age – towards a Human Language project’ is to analyse the reasons for the language gap between English and other languages, the economic, social and linguistic consequences and the impact on the digital single market (DSM). As noted in a recent Eurobarometer report, ‘Language barriers particularly strongly affect the less educated and older population, as well as speakers of minority languages’. Furthermore, most recent Eurostat data show that only 16% of European citizens have purchased online from other EU countries, accounting for 30% of total e-shoppers in 2016.

STOA is organising a workshop on 10 January 2017 in the context of this project. The event will be chaired by Algirdas SAUDARGAS, who proposed the project along with other MEPs. Key expert speakers will share their views on the current status and potential of language technologies in a multilingual Europe, as well as on the language divide and how technologies could help reduce the language gap in the DSM. The social implications of unbalanced levels of technology support for European languages, as well as of their uneven use for public policies will also be addressed. The presentations will be followed by a panel discussion on the impact of language technologies in the digital age and their outlook, bringing together European academic scholars and researchers, industry experts and policy-makers.

The workshop will highlight the potential impact of different language technologies and future trends in translation technologies, such as intelligent content, machine learning and speech interaction. The main questions to be addressed are:

•    Are Human Language Technologies the key to overcoming language barriers?
•    Will these new technologies encourage worker mobility, improve access to cross-border public services and online services, or create new opportunities for start-ups and SMEs?
•    Will the fragmented European industry be able to respond to current technology challenges, to be able to compete with US leaders such as Google and Microsoft?

To register for the event click here.

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