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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

Globe Climate: Canada’s resource reckoning is coming

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Good afternoon, and welcome to Globe Climate, a newsletter about climate change, environment and resources in Canada.

This afternoon, the Alberta government announced that it is restoring a coal mining policy it revoked last spring. At the time, the move provoked a widespread public backlash detailed by The Globe. The original decision, which opened up more than 1.4 million hectares to exploration, was made without public consultation. Premier Jason Kenney previously defended the changes.

Lots more on coal and Canada’s resources industry in this week’s newsletter edition.

Now, let’s catch you up on other news.

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Ecology

‘Incredibly destructive’: Canada’s Prairies to see devastating impact of climate change

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As the climate continues to warm at an alarming rate, experts warn if dramatic steps to mitigate global warming are not taken, the effects in Canada’s Prairie region will be devastating to the country’s agriculture sector.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country is warming, on average, about double the global rate.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. recently found 2020 was earth’s second-hottest year on record, with the average land and ocean surface temperature across the globe at 0.98 of a degree C above the 20th-century average.

However, the agency found the northern hemisphere saw its hottest year on record, at 1.28 degrees C above the average.

“(In Canada) we are looking at about 6.4C degrees of warming this century, which isn’t much less than one degree per decade, which is just a terrifying rate of warming,” Darrin Qualman, the director of climate crisis policy and action at the National Farmer’s Union said.

Qualman said there is “massive change coming” to Canada’s Prairies, which will be “incredibly destructive.”

“It’s not going too far to say that if we made that happen, parts of the Prairies wouldn’t be farmable anymore,” he said.

According to the federal government, in 2018 Canada’s agriculture and agri-food system generated $143 billion, accounting for 7.4 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The sector employed 2.3 million people in 2018. The majority of the 64.2 million hectares of farmland in Canada is concentrated in the Prairies and in southern Ontario.

The effects of climate change are already being felt on the ground in the Prairies, Qualman said, adding that the NFU has already heard from farmers complaining of “challenging weather.”

“People are sharing pictures of flattened crops and buildings, et cetera, that have been damaged,” he said. “And we’re still at the beginning of this.”

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Ecology

Insect-based dog food aims to cut your pet’s carbon pawprint

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Meat has an enormous carbon footprint, with livestock liable for about 15 per cent of worldwide emissions, as we have beforehand mentioned on this e-newsletter. That is prompted specialists to suggest consuming much less meat for sustainability (and well being) causes.

However what about your pet? One research discovered that the methane and nitrous oxide emissions generated by canine and cat meals within the U.S. alone had been equal to about 64 million tonnes of CO2, or roughly the quantity produced by 13.6 million automobiles. And it might be getting worse, with a development towards feeding pets “human-grade” meat.

That is prompted some pet meals makers to look to lower-carbon protein sources — together with bugs.

Research present that producing insect-based meals requires far much less feed, land and water and generates far fewer greenhouse fuel emissions per kilogram than meats comparable to beef, pork or rooster.

That is one of many causes increasingly more pet meals containing insect protein are hitting the market. Purina, a model owned by multinational Nestlé, launched a line of canine and cat meals containing black soldier fly larvae in Switzerland in November.

In Canada, Montreal-based Wilder Harrier began promoting canine treats made with cricket protein in 2015 and pet food made with black soldier fly larvae in 2019. It plans to broaden to launch a line of insect-based cat treats later this yr and cat meals in 2022 due to “a ton of demand,” mentioned firm co-founder Philippe Poirier.

Wilder Harrier initially labored with animal nutritionists on insect-based merchandise to unravel a unique downside — specifically, the founders’ canines had allergy symptoms to frequent meats utilized in canine meals. Poirier mentioned now about half its prospects hunt down the product due to their pets’ allergy symptoms and about half for environmental causes.

Dr. Cailin Heinze, a U.S.-based veterinary nutritionist licensed by the American School of Veterinary Vitamin, has written concerning the environmental influence of pet meals. She mentioned we’re typically “not as involved as we probably ought to [be]” concerning the environmental footprint of pets.

Alternatively, she famous that the longer-term influence of newer diets, comparable to vegan meals and people containing bugs, hasn’t been nicely examined in comparison with conventional pet meals.

Maria Cattai de Godoy, an assistant professor of animal sciences on the College of Illinois who research novel proteins for pet meals (together with bugs, yeast and plant-based substances), mentioned such substances are rigorously examined to find out their security and diet earlier than being added to pet meals. 

“This can be a very extremely regulated trade,” she mentioned, however admitted it is also evolving.

Relating to bugs, she mentioned constructive information “reveals promise in direction of utilizing them increasingly more in pet meals.” Insect-based proteins have additionally earned the endorsement of the British Veterinary Affiliation, which says some insect-based meals could also be higher for pets than prime steak.

However Godoy famous that there isn’t any one-size-fits-all resolution, and pet homeowners ought to take into consideration the wants of their very own particular person pet and analysis whether or not a specific weight loss plan can be appropriate.

She mentioned that other than the kind of protein, issues like packaging and manufacturing strategies may also make a distinction. For instance, utilizing meat byproducts that may in any other case turn into waste would not drive elevated meat manufacturing the identical approach as utilizing human-grade meat.

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