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Hopkins gets $48 million for intelligence collection research


Johns Hopkins University has received a grant from the Department of Defense to develop computer systems to assist military and intelligence agencies process the huge amounts of data they collect.

The $48 million grant will be used for a new research center. It will emphasize improving technology to translate and analyze speech and text in several languages, school officials said on Monday.

The center will assist overworked intelligence analysts deal with the flood of information often in Arabic being collected in Iraq and the war on terror, experts said.

The center will be called the Human Language Technology Center of Excellence. It will be located near Hopkins’ Homewood campus, and staff will include engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, cognitive scientists and linguists.

“It’s really supposed to be a fresh look at this problem,” said Gary W. Strong, the center’s executive director. “This technology has hit a wall at this point.”

Strong was formerly a program manager at the National Science Foundation, where he focused on language technology projects.

Experts from the University of Maryland College Park and BBN Technologies, a Cambridge, Mass., software company, will also take part.

James K. Baker will be the center’s director of research, Hopkins also announced on Monday. Baker founded Dragon Systems Inc., which in 1997 developed Dragon NaturallySpeaking, a dictation program that can be trained to recognize a person’s voice and turn it into written text.

Baker is quitting a professorship at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to take the Hopkins job.

BBN has offices in Columbia. It was key in the development of the Defense Department’s ARPAnet, the precursor to the Internet.

Information from: The (Baltimore) Sun,

– Associated Press

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