How far away are we from having dinner and a movie with our computers like in the plot of the 2013 Academy Award nominated Her?
Chris Manning of Stanford University discusses the future of computational linguistics; how his work and others could have “Siri” go from search engine to charming conversationalist using computational linguistics.
Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix in a poignant and eerie love story between man and machine explored a future wherein which computers demonstrated human-like mastery over language, allowing for us to fall into deeper, more life-like, relationships with them.
The computer in Her could laugh, ask meaningful questions, express fear, and understand sentiment.
Whereas, today, we are more used to our vocal pocket companions asking if we want directions or accidentally calling our in-laws.
But, what if Her is not as far off as we think?
Chris Manning, who was recently interviewed by the Stanford engineering press, has spent his life’s work dedicated to bridging the language gap between man and machine.
“My focus is on natural language processing, otherwise known as computational linguistics.
It’s getting computer systems to respond intelligently to textual material and human languages.”
Chris combines the worlds of linguistics, artificial intelligence, and computational thinking to create the nuances of language we all take for granted and bring it to life in computers.
“You could walk up to someone and say, ‘Good morning, how are you this morning?’ It’s perfectly correct, but no one says that.
They say, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ …you need the computer to understand the world… Every day, writers across the planet are writing about our world and how it all works.
We create computational models that assign mathematical values to words and groups of words and use them to successfully read text and derive meaning.”
With this myriad of computational thinking and linguistic study, Manning’s work illuminates everything enthralling about the future of artificial intelligence.
The plasticity of human language coupled with the complexity of its grammar and ability to convey intensely diverse emotions is the hallmark of our species.
An ability to at least attempt replication of this trait in a computer is a revolutionary step forward in how our relationship with technology will grow.
While, no, we won’t be getting the voice of robot Scarlett Johansson laughing at our jokes from our smartphone anytime soon, the field of computational linguistics is entering a new frontier.
As Manning states, the next step is finding a way to catalog the human linguistic experience into a database.
In order for language to be effective, you need context.
Jokes, metaphors, references, all need a context, that is how humans are able to laugh, cry, and smile.
We remember; we are able to connect symbols and verbal cues to create a bigger picture.
“The dream is a technology that builds (contextual databases) automatically by reading Wikipedia or online newspapers.”
Having an understanding of computational thinking opens the doors to untapped adventures into human and machine discoveries like these.
The world we know and will know is one part reality two parts code.
The study of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all about breaking down how the human mind works in a simple, applicable way. The potency this field offers for the future as a whole is remarkable with applications in nearly every aspect of our lives.
Your children can get a head start in understanding AI today. Computational Thinkers is offering Introduction to Artificial Intelligence; a course designed to break down the basics of how computers think. This course will not only give a leg up to students for future studies in coding or programming, but the concepts learned in AI apply to psychology, business, and gaming. Fun, simplified, and a powerhouse; this class is a unique opportunity to learn about the technology of today and tomorrow.