TOCS Event-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

TOCS Event-Silicon Valley Campus - Carnegie Mellon University

TOCS Event


Alex Waibel

Alex Waibel
Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University


Dec. 6, 1:30pm PT



CMUSV, Rm 118 [directions]

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Title: A New Assault on the Language Divide
Abstract: As our world becomes increasingly interdependent, and globalization brings people together more than ever, we quickly discover that it is no longer the "digital divide" that separates us, but the "language divide" and the associated cultural differences. Nearly everyone has a cell phone and could connect with everyone else on the planet, if only they shared a common language and a common understanding. Forcing uniformity however, is neither realistic nor desirable, nor is it possible to overcome these barriers by human effort alone. Since the late '80s we have been developing technology to overcome these barriers. Speech and text translation systems for mobile applications, for lectures, and for broadcasts have results that are now even being commercialized.
Still we cannot claim victory as the technology is limited both in robustness as well as the number of languages it can serve. How do we make speech translation systems accept any topic, any input, and noisy, disfluent, conversational, accented and emotional speech? How do we recover from communication errors? And how do we expand the technology from a dozen or so languages to hundreds if not thousands of languages? In this talk, I will discuss these daunting challenges and our approach to address them. I will also discuss several large scale programs that we are about to launch in 2012 in an effort to respond.
Speaker Bio: Alex Waibel is Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. He directs the international Center for Advanced Communication Technologies (InterACT) with research interests in multimodal and multilingual human communication systems. Dr. Waibel's team pioneered the first domain-limited speech translator in Europe and the US, JANUS (1991), the first real-time simultaneous translator of lectures (2005) and the first commercially available speech translator JIBBIGO on a Smartphone in 2009. He was one of the founders and chairmen (1998-2000) of C-STAR, the consortium for speech translation research. He has published extensively in the field, received several patents and awards, and built more than ten successful companies. The latest of these ventures, Jibbigo, builds and markets the world's first commercial speech-translator all on a smartphone. Jibbigo is available in more than 10 languages, works on several platforms and requires no network connection. Dr. Waibel works with several humanitarian organizations on using the technology in emergency and health care missions in the developing world. Dr. Waibel received his BS, MS and PhD degrees from MIT and CMU.