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Language-based Assessments (LanBAs)

CAT Blasi
Wednesday, November 29, 2023, 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Constructive Advanced Thinking (CAT) Programme project presentation

Linguistic behavior serves as a reliable, inexpensive, and increasingly automated resource to assess different aspects of individuals and societies. Speech helps detect incipient health issues; newspaper corpora are used to identify stereotypes and societal biases; and wordlists are the basis to determine verbal development. However, these and other relevant developments (which we label language-based assessments or LanBAs) have been concocted, tested, and deployed primarily on a handful of large and commercially central languages, with English dominating the scene. Since the 6,500 extant languages can and do vary substantially, transferring LanBAs from English to them is fraught with technical and linguistic challenges. The consequences of this bias, which we are only starting to understand, is that users of minority languages have at their disposal more expensive, less efficient, and potentially biased LanBAs. A novel source of worldwide inequity looms large across multiple social arenas.

We propose to address this issue by gathering a diverse set of experts with three main tracks of activity: (1) critically synthesizing the scientific evidence revealing the Anglophone bias in LanBAs, (2) engaging policy-makers, experts on language technologies, and other non-academic agents, and (3) transferring knowledge to the general audience through diverse media strategies.


Damian Blasi – Harvard University, USA – Max Plank Institute for the Science of Human History, Germany – Higher School of Economics, Russia

Joseph P. Dexter  - Data Science Initiative and Department of Human Evolutionary Biology,  Harvard University

Adolfo Martín García  - Director, Cognitive Neuroscience Center, Universidad de San Andres, Argentina

Camila Scaff – Postdoctoral Researcher - Human Ecology group, Institute of Evolutionary Medicine (IEM), University of Zurich,

Amber Gayle Thalmayer - Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Zürich

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