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”. Voice interfaces struggle with accents, from regional American accents … Continue reading Accents and Speech Recognition
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
Technology is becoming smarter. Our phones talk back to us, our Netflix accounts make custom movie recommendations, and soon enough, our cars will be able to drive themselves. Some of the decisions our machines make will be trivial (such as which movie to watch), but many will be more impactful on our lives. For example, … Continue reading Earning our Trust
Imagine you’re at a new friend’s house for dinner, and the house is stiflingly hot. You feel uncomfortable turning on the AC yourself, so instead, you casually remark: “Boy, it sure is warm in here!” Your friend will probably infer your intentions, and will turn on the AC or open a window. Now imagine that … Continue reading When will machines understand our intentions?
Human beings are not stationary creatures. We spend significant portions of our lives in transit, whether on foot, public transportation, or by car. When we travel from Point A to Point B, we invariably encounter other human beings. These encounters – and the way we navigate them – are governed by a very complex system … Continue reading The Semiotics of the Road