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LingoBoingo: Play Games, Make the World Smarter

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Who doesn’t like playing games? What if you could play fun games online and in the process make the world a smarter place? That’s the idea behind LingoBoingo.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Linguistic Data Consortium and department of Computer and Information Science, the University of Essex, Queen Mary University of London, the Université de Montpellier, and the Sorbonne have teamed up to bring together a group of online games that contribute to research in language science and technology. Sponsored in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, LingoBoingo currently contains seven online language games with more on the way. Lovers of language, grammar, and literature can test their knowledge, earn high scores, and compete against other players in a variety of challenging games.

Linguistic research helps make technologies smarter. Image: Wiki Images Creative Commons.

Linguistic research helps make technologies smarter. Image: Wiki Images Creative Commons.

Getting computers to understand language requires large amounts of linguistic data and “correct” answers to language tasks (what researchers call “gold standard annotations”). Large sets of language data and annotations are used in machine learning to train technologies to understand human voice commands, recognize a language, automatically translate one language into another, and lots of other things that make our computers, phones, and even our refrigerators smart!

Simply by playing language games online you can help create the linguistic data used by researchers to improve language technologies. You don’t have to be a linguist or a computer scientist to contribute to research. Most everyone on the planet has lots of intuitive knowledge about the languages they speak, and researchers could use your help.

Developed by researchers at the University of Essex and Queen Mary University of London, Phrase Detectives is an annotation game where players act as a detective solving cases by interpreting coreference (for example, the relationship between proper nouns and pronouns) in public domain literary and Wikipedia texts. Players earn points for solving cases and can get their scores listed on the game’s leader board. Having citizen scientists involved in playing language games has been crucial.

“Research in computational linguistics is still mainly driven by the availability of annotated data,” explained game co-creator and professor of computational linguistics, Massimo Poesio. “By raising the profile of this type of citizen science, it may greatly help researchers like us to collect the very large language datasets on which our research relies. By providing a single portal where games for studying all types of language interpretation can be found, hopefully LingoBoingo can result in players attracted by one game then starting to explore other games as well.”

In addition to Phrase Detectives, researchers from Essex and Queen Mary also created Tile Attack, a two player game where players earn points by collaboratively identifying noun phrases (persons, places, and things). Players not only earn virtual points in the game, but can also win monthly prizes. The results of these games can help computers automatically extract and summarize relevant information from texts, such as locations or person names.

Name That Language, developed by the Linguistic Data Consortium at the University of Pennsylvania, tests your ability to recognize a language in a short audio clip. Players listen to an audio clip and have to identify the language from multiple choice options. Players earn points for correct answers, and the game gets more challenging as a player progresses. Bonus rounds give players an opportunity to earn double points by identifying languages in clips where the language being spoken has not yet been confirmed. By compiling the judgments about languages made by the game players, researchers will learn more about which languages are more easily confused and improve technologies that can automatically recognize human languages.

Computer Science students at the University of Pennsylvania, in cooperation with their professors, have created a fun game called Know Your Nyms. In this game, players are challenged to name as many “-nyms” for a given word as they can before the timer runs out. These can include synonyms, antonyms, hyponyms, and meronyms. Don’t know what a hyponym is? Play the game to find out! Fans of language-related games such as crossword puzzles will love Know Your Nyms.

LingoBoingo also contains a number of French language games. In existence since 2007, JeuxDeMots builds semantic networks in French by having game players cooperatively provide different relationships and associations for French words. Developed by researchers at INRIA, LORIA and the Sorbonne, Zombilingo is a fun game for lovers of grammar and zombies! Players collect brains (points) by identifying grammatical relationships in French sentences. A spin-off of Zombilingo, Rigor Mortis presents an Egyptian mummy-themed game where players earn points by identifying French multi-word expressions such as “hot air balloon” and idioms like “hit the road.”

Playing these games is not only fun and educational, but it also creates language data that linguists and computer scientists need for their research. And, in turn, their research helps benefit the world by increasing knowledge about language and by creating better technologies. If you like playing language games, then head to LingoBoingo and help make the world a smarter place!

Want more citizen science? Check out SciStarter’s Project Finder! With 1100+ citizen science projects spanning every field of research, task and age group, there’s something for everyone!


JFiumaraBWAbout the Author

James Fiumara

“James develops and manages projects with a primary focus on new initiatives and alternative uses of language resources, corpus development methods, and analytic techniques.” Bio Source: https://www.ldc.upenn.edu/staff/james-fiumara

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Ecology

Yukon and Northern BC First Nations tackle climate change using Indigenous knowledge and science

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YUKON, June 18, 2021 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is working together in partnership with Indigenous and Northern communities in finding solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change in the North.

Today, Minister of Northern Affairs, Daniel Vandal, along with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency), Larry Bagnell, highlighted progress on three unique, Indigenous-led projects that are helping communities in Yukon and Northern British Columbia adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary met virtually with Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN) to learn about their community-led climate change monitoring program. C/TFN has partnered with Tsay Keh Dene Nation (TKDN) and Chu Cho Environmental of Prince George, British Columbia, to build a community-led monitoring project that examines environmental data and Indigenous knowledge to create a holistic picture of how the climate is changing across C/TFN and TKDN traditional territories. The project combines tracking of current and historical climate trends with knowledge shared by Elders while also providing opportunities for youth mentorship and climate change awareness.

The Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN) is also leading a unique project to assess the impacts of climate change within their traditional territory. Climate change is causing many of the culturally significant ice patches to melt, exposing organic artifacts to oxygen and leading to rapid deterioration. The TRTFN ice patch mapping project will involve performing archaeological assessments to prevent the degradation of artifacts. Research will be guided by traditional knowledge, Elders and oral histories, when available, and heavily involve community, Elders, youth and Knowledge Keepers.

The Pelly Crossing Selkirk Development Corporation is leading the Selkirk Wind Resource Assessment project through the installation of a Sonic Detection and Ranging (SODAR) system. The initiative includes a feasibility study leading up to the construction of a renewable energy facility, including wind, solar and battery energy storage. Expanding clean energy within the region will have direct benefits for communities, including reduced reliance on diesel, job creation and revenue generation for Selkirk First Nation. 

These projects are delivering important environmental, social and economic benefits that lead to healthier, more sustainable and resilient communities across Yukon and Northern British Columbia. They also build community clean energy capacity and help to avoid the impacts of climate change.

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Ecology

Atlantic Provinces Ready For Aquaculture Growth

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Aquaculture is an important economic driver for rural, coastal and Indigenous communities, and Atlantic Canada is well positioned to increase aquaculture production as global demand for sustainably sourced seafood grows.

That is why the ministers responsible for aquaculture in the Atlantic provinces have agreed to the ongoing development and management of their industries based on common principles. A new memorandum of understanding has been signed by the four ministers, which extends the previous agreement signed in 2008.

“In a time when food security is especially important, it is good to see our aquaculture industry has grown steadily and is poised for continued growth in 2021 based on environmentally responsible, science-based policies and practices,” said Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for Nova Scotia. “Our Atlantic partnership continues to help the industry grow sustainably.”

Cooperation between the provinces and the aquaculture industry has led to improvements in pest management, environmentally sustainable aquaculture methods, aquatic animal health and policies to support the shared use of marine and freshwater resources. It also aims to align regulation and policy between the provinces to make the regulatory requirements easier to understand by industry and the public.

Each province has a comprehensive and robust legislative and regulatory framework to ensure environmental sustainability, economic prosperity and public accountability. The provinces update their legislation and regulations regularly. Nova Scotia revamped its regulatory framework in 2015; New Brunswick received Royal Assent for a new Aquaculture Act in 2019 and is working on the supporting regulations; Newfoundland and Labrador completely revised its aquaculture policy in 2019; and Prince Edward Island has recently drafted a new Aquaculture Act.

The ministers have agreed to continue to use science-based evidence for management decisions, thereby increasing public and investor confidence in the Atlantic Canadian aquaculture industry.

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Ecology

COMING SOON: A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0

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We all want the same thing: a clean and responsible energy future for our children and future generations while continuing to enjoy a high standard of living.

On December 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new climate plan which he claimed will help achieve Canada’s economic and environmental goals.

The proposed plan by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) entitled “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” will have an initial investment of $15 billion of taxpayer’s money. It is built on 5 pillars of action:

  1) Making the Places Canadians Live and Gather More Affordable by Cutting Energy Waste

2) Making Clean, Affordable Transportation and Power Available in Every Community

3) Continuing to Ensure Pollution isn’t Free and Households Get More Money Back

4) Building Canada’s Clean Industrial Advantage

5) Embracing the Power of Nature to Support Healthier Families and More Resilient Communities  

In my paper, “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy 2.0” I will objectively critique each pillar in the government’s new climate plan and provide alternative solutions to the same issues.

  This is an alternative plan that supports workers, protects lower income earners and creates economic growth while respecting the environment and focusing on the dignity of work.

  This plan abandons virtue-signaling projects and relies on Canadian ingenuity to build our economy and restore Canada’s role of responsible leadership in the world.

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