Archive for Artificial intelligence

Chatbot comedy

Unfortunately, most customer service chatbots are not nearly this good:

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"62 years ago I was killed at a midwifery clinic"

[This is a guest post by Cyrus Shaoul]

I am a long time LL reader and I came across an interesting machine translation error today.

When my Japanese friend sent me this sentence:

62年前のこの日に慶應義塾大学病院で命を授かりました。

I was flummoxed by the verb 授かる [VHM:  sazukaru {"be gifted / endowed with (an award / title); to be blessed (e.g., with a child); be granted / taught; to be given something of great value / a treasure, by deities or someone of higher social class"}] at the end of the sentence, so I asked Google Translate for help and lo and behold, it said:

"On this day, 62 years ago, I died at Keio University Hospital."

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GFOOEOPQ

This period of prudent isolation is a good time to remember that linguistic analysis applies not only to sound, structure, and sense, but also to social interaction. As the first in a series of posts on this topic, we feature Eve Armstrong's brilliant application of simulated annealing to a problem currently on hold, but sure to re-emerge in full force when our lives de-virtualize: "An Artificially-intelligent Means to Escape Discreetly from the Departmental Holiday Party; guide for the socially awkward" (4/1/2020)G:

We shall employ simulated annealing to identify the global solution of a dynamical model, to make a favorable impression upon colleagues at the departmental holiday party and then exit undetected as soon as possible. The procedure, “Gradual Freeze-out of an Optimal Estimation via Optimization of Parameter Quantification” – GFOOEOPQ, is designed for the socially awkward. The socially awkward among us possess little instinct for pulling off such a maneuver, and may benefit from a machine that can learn to do it for us.

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Towards tracking neurocognitive health

A few months ago, I posted about a talk I gave at an Alzheimer's Association workshop on "Digital Biomarkers".

Overall I told a hopeful story, about the prospects for a future in which a few minutes of interaction each month, with an app on a smartphone or tablet, will give effective longitudinal tracking of neurocognitive health. […]

Speech-based tasks have been part of standard neuropsychological test batteries for many decades, because speaking engages many psychological and neurological systems, offering many (sometimes subtle) clues about what might be going wrong.

But I emphasized the fact that we're not there yet, and that some serious research and development problems stand in the way. […]

Some colleagues and I are starting a large-scale project to get speech data of this general kind: picture descriptions, "fluency" tests (e.g. "how many words starting with F can you think of in 60 seconds?"), and so on. The idea is to support research on analysis of such recordings, automated and otherwise, and to allow psychometric norming of both traditional and innovative measures, for both one-time and longitudinal administration, across a diverse population of subjects. We've got IRB approval to publish the recordings, the transcripts, and basic speaker metadata (age, gender, language background, years of education).

We've been testing the (browser-based) app across a variety of devices and users. When it's ready for prime time, this is one of many channels that we'll use to recruit participants — we're hoping for a few tens of thousands of volunteers.

We're finally ready to open this app to wider use, and you can contribute a few socially-distant minutes of your time by going to https://speechbiomarkers.org. And please tell your friends!

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Are you in the book today?

[This is a guest post by Nathan Hopson, who sent along the two screen shots with which it begins.]

Another splendid example of why punctuation matters and why machine translation is dumb…

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Waterless smart public toilet; toilet revolution!, part 3

For nearly two years, we've been following the awesome Chinese toilet revolution.  See especially the last comment to this post:

"Toilet Revolution!!" (11/26/17)

But see also the follow-up posts listed in the "Selected readings" below.

In its frenzied race to catch up with the past of privies, it would appear that China has decided to make a Great Leap Forward into the future of lavatories.  So now we have the "waterless smart public toilet".

"Beijing's first waterless smart public toilet has been put into use", by Zhao Tong (People's Daily Online), October 29, 2019

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