Wikipedia Relies on Crowdsourcing Once More

May 9, 2016

As a non-profit organization, the Wikimedia Foundation relies on charitable donations to fund many of its projects, including Wikipedia.  It is why every few months, when you are browsing the Wiki pages you will see a donation bar pop to send them money.  Wikimedia uses the funds to keep the online encyclopedia running, but also to start new projects.   Engadget reports that Wikipedia is interested in taking natural language processing and applying it to the Wikipedia search engine, “Wikipedia Is Developing A Crowdsourced Speech Engine.”

Working with Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Wikimedia researchers are building a speech engine to enable people with reading or visual impairments to access the plethora of information housed in the encyclopedia.  In order to fund the speech engine, the researchers turned to crowdsourcing.  It is estimated that twenty-five percent, 125 million monthly users, will benefit from the speech engine.

” ‘Initially, our focus will be on the Swedish language, where we will make use of our own language resources,’ KTH speech technology professor Joakim Gustafson, said in a statement. ‘Then we will do a basic English voice, which we expect to be quite good, given the large amount of open source linguistic resources. And finally, we will do a rudimentary Arabic voice that will be more a proof of concept.’”

Wikimedia wants to have a speech engine in Arabic, English, and Swedish by the end of 2016, then they will focus on the other 280 languages they support with their projects.  Usually, you have to pay to have an accurate and decent natural language processing machine, but if Wikimedia develops a decent speech engine it might not be much longer before speech commands are more commonplace.


Whitney Grace, May 9, 2016
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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