by Jason Baldridge and Lillian Lee
Language is the holy grail of artificial intelligence. When we imagine sharing a world with smart machines, we don't think about logic, or problem solving, or winning at chess. We hear HAL-9000 declining to open the pod bay doors, and the Terminator saying he'll be baaack. Researchers have been working on building computers we can talk to for 60 years; in the 1990s, Bill Gates predicted that speech would soon be “a primary way of interacting with the machine”. So why aren't we talking to our computers yet ....Or are we? Thanks to new developments in human language technology (also known as "natural language processing") and text analytics, computers are analyzing everything from e-mail and tweets to clinical records and and speed-date conversations. How does the technology work, when does it work well (and when not), what's it doing for us, and where is it headed?
9th–13th March 2012