Martin Benjamin is the founder and director of Kamusi, an NGO dedicated to gathering linguistic data and setting that data to work within language technologies, with a major goal to include languages that are otherwise neglected in research and trade. He began Kamusi in 1994 as a sideline to a PhD in Anthropology at Yale, as a Swahili dictionary that was a very early online experiment in what would later be termed “crowdsourcing”.
In response to demands from other African languages, he developed a model for multilingual lexicography through which languages interlink at a fine-grained semantic level. These knowledge-based relations undergird underfunded translation technologies he is currently building for all 7111 ISO-coded languages.
Among his writings, he is the author of “Teach You Backwards: An In-Depth Study of Google Translate for 108 Languages“, an empirical investigation of Google’s results in the context of larger questions pertaining to the enterprise of Machine Translation. His lab is now seated at the Swiss EdTech Collider at EPFL in Lausanne.