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BGU and MIT Develop Cultural Intelligence Software

BGU and MIT Develop Cultural Intelligence Software

June 28, 2012

Press Releases, Robotics & High-Tech

BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, June 28, 2012 – While identifying cultural differences is a major challenge facing intelligence agencies, researchers from Israel and the United States have developed computer-based methodology to improve knowledge, apply data and better decipher these nuances and biases.

This new methodology will be presented in a paper called “Can Computers Help Us to Better Understand Different Cultures?” at the 2012 European Intelligence and Security Informatics Conference in August by researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) of Beer-Sheva, Israel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Unlike other forms of intelligence which rely heavily on advanced technologies to intercept and interpret information, cultural intelligence has traditionally been the province of human experts and evaluations.

At the conference, BGU Department of Education Chair Prof. Yair Neuman and Prof. Newton Howard of MIT will discuss this novel methodology, which paradoxically uses the shortcomings of automatic machine translation — the translation of text from one language to another — to improve cultural understanding and intelligence.

“This methodology seeks to identify our own shortcomings in understanding various cultures, while producing surprising results,” Neuman explains.  “For instance, it was found that historic American political speeches understood from the perspective of the Arab language were wrongly perceived as sentimental and emotionally loaded compared to the original meaning.  By identifying these biases, we can better understand and adjust our thinking.”

The researchers add that this methodology is a promising new tool for computer-based cultural intelligence technology, but is currently only in the beginning stages of its development.

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion’s vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University’s expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU’s academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU’s main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion’s vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today.

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