Accents and Speech Recognition

Anyone who’s ever used Siri has likely experienced the frustration of not being understood. There’s a fundamental – almost existential – panic that surfaces when someone else doesn’t know what you’re saying. It’s an even bigger problem for people with accents other than “General American English”[1]. Voice interfaces struggle with accents, from regional American accents … Continue reading Accents and Speech Recognition

Sorry, I Didn’t Understand That

Almost all visions of “the future” include computers that we can talk to. Something about language seems central to our understanding of intelligence, and often it is taken as a given that intelligent machines will be conversant with humans. After the failure to expand early dialogue systems to do anything useful, A.I. researchers gave up … Continue reading Sorry, I Didn’t Understand That

Towards a Multi-Dimensional Taxonomy

People like to label things. One of the best-known examples of a classification scheme is our biological taxonomy, which is meant to show the relationships of different organisms to each other. But no taxonomy is set in stone; even our biological taxonomy has undergone many changes in the last century. This got me thinking: how … Continue reading Towards a Multi-Dimensional Taxonomy

Gender in the Classroom

Gender is now recognized as an important social issue. Politicians, the media, and laypeople alike are discussing and debating topics like the gender wage gap, workplace sexual harassment, and institutionalized prejudice. Another area where gender crops up is education. Teachers are constantly being evaluated, whether it’s by their supervisors or sites like These evaluations … Continue reading Gender in the Classroom