The Language Big Data Alliance (LBDA) held its annual conference "Inspire The Future" in Guangzhou on April 8, 2017. Among the attendees were Huang Youyi, co-chair of LBDA, former deputy director-general of China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration and director of China National Committee for MTI Education, Zhong Weihe, co-chair of LBDA and president of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Huang Song, co-chair of LBDA and general manager of China Translation Corporation, Eric Yu, secretary-general of LBDA and CEO of Global Tone Communication Technology Co., Ltd. (GTCOM), as well as more than 500 guests working in a variety of sectors. The meeting revealed some of the member organizations’ technological breakthroughs that are expected to support the education and R&D activities across the alliance.

Value Sharing

During the conference, Mr. Huang Youyi stated that over the past year, LBDA’s member organizations have increased to 138. Resource sharing and synergy creation have resulted in projects such as the Chinese-Portuguese-English Machine Translation Laboratory, and the Japanese Pronunciation Correction Laboratory. Mr. Zhong Weihe noted that by strengthening collaboration between industry, universities and research centers and by promoting innovative training mechanisms, LBDA has helped address the current need for high-calibre language service professionals.

Mr. Huang Song noted LBDA boasts the world’s leading science and technology resources, and it has become an exemplar in effective university-industry cooperation that helps create both social and economic values. Mr. Eric Yu briefed the meeting that since the inception of LBDA, the alliance has successfully conducted more than 30 projects focusing on speech recognition, machine translation and big data analysis. These included translation tasks totaling more than 50 million characters. Over the course of seven days, 750 teachers and students from 58 member universities completed subtitle translation for 50,000-minute video clips, which is a significant milestone in China with regard to translation.

Knowledge Sharing

The rapid development of big data and artificial intelligence technology has had a great impact on the traditional methods of education in universities. While technology brings conveniences, it also asks educators to break away from the old ways and adapt to the new era — such is the consensus reached by presidents from four language universities during one of the Dialogue sessions. Excellence in foreign language education should involve both language ability and intercultural communication skills. To train students in technology and data will truly make a difference.

For the language industry, big data is an essential part of the globalization process. During the Dialogue session “Big Data Inspires Language”, experts pointed out that language professionals today require training not only in language, but also in big data and other technology, in order to work more efficiently.

LBDA has always advocated the sharing of resources, a theme highlighted in the Dialogue session “Resource Sharing and Mutually Beneficial Education”. As is observed by one of the guest speakers for this event, sharing is essentially about breaking through barriers, including barriers between disciplines, between universities and industry, and between schools.

In addition to its wide range of applications in the language industry, big data has also shown extraordinary potential for application in other fields, as shown in “Perspectives: Big Data in Vertical Industries”. Experts expounded on the unique features of the “cloud”, particularly in relation to enhanced user experience.

The use of big data will be refined over time, with each refined application generating huge commercial value. At the final Dialogue session four experts discussed values and applications of big data. Despite its exceptional potential, big data also brings with it huge challenges, including data silos and the lack of highly competent professionals.

Results Sharing

Member organizations showed their impressive R&D results including Japanese pronunciation correction powered by speech recognition technology, and high-quality Chinese-Portuguese Machine Translation. These achievements have not only established a benchmark for university-industry cooperation, but have also delivered broad commercial value. GTCOM vice-president Zhang Xiaodan signed two agreements, one with Chen Jian, director of Guangdong TV news channel and the other with Huang Jiying, vice-president of Jilin Huaqiao Foreign Languages Institute. GTCOM will provide customized data services for the Guangdong TV news channel, allowing the audience the access to authoritative and professional big data information. The cooperation with Jilin Huaqiao will include cross-language big data technology, and a language laboratory.

2017 is a crucial year for LBDA’s global strategy. In January, LBDA and CIUTI signed a strategic agreement, and later this year LBDA Europe will be founded to facilitate cooperation in education and research. In addition to Europe, Australia will also become an area of priority.

In August of this year, the FIT World Congress will be held in Brisbane, Australia. LBDA will host a forum at the congress and it is also expected to sign a strategic agreement with the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT). GTCOM, as the secretariat of the alliance, will continue to provide big data services for all member organizations. With cognitive intelligence at its core, it will further strengthen its R&D systems, promote smart technologies, and contribute to the development of the big data industry.

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