Previous generations of researchers and intelligence analysts had to rely on human translators and interpreters to process large bodies of text in other languages. Technological advances in text analysis and natural language processing have reduced this burden significantly, and an array of resources is now available for faster translation and processing of foreign-language materials. Some resources, such as Google Translate, are free and open-source, and they invite users to offer improved translations for machine-generated text, which in turn improves and fine-tunes the algorithms over time. Cohen et al. note that automatic translation services are “seldom as good as if a human expert had translated the content of a website, but the great advantage with automatic translation is obviously the speed with which large amounts of data can be processed.” Speed is an obvious advantage when intelligence analysts are determining how much of a threat an individual posting on an extremist website poses in the immediate future.
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