Archive for HLT

Lombroso and Lavater, reborn as fake AI

Drew Harwell, "A face-scanning algorithm increasingly decides whether you deserve the job", WaPo 10/22/2019:

An artificial intelligence hiring system has become a powerful gatekeeper for some of America’s most prominent employers, reshaping how companies assess their workforce — and how prospective employees prove their worth.

Designed by the recruiting-technology firm HireVue, the system uses candidates’ computer or cellphone cameras to analyze their facial movements, word choice and speaking voice before ranking them against other applicants based on an automatically generated “employability” score.

HireVue’s “AI-driven assessments” have become so pervasive in some industries, including hospitality and finance, that universities make special efforts to train students on how to look and speak for best results. More than 100 employers now use the system, including Hilton, Unilever and Goldman Sachs, and more than a million job seekers have been analyzed.

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Brain Wars: Tobermory

Joe Pater's Brain Wars project "is intended to support the preparation of a book directed at the general public, and also as a resource for other scholars":

The title is intentionally ambiguous: “wars about the brain” and “wars between brains”. As well conveying the some of the ideas being debated, their history, and their importance, I plan to talk a bit about the nature of intellectual wars: Why do they happen? What are their costs and benefits?  I hope that I’ll finish it by 2021, the 50th anniversary of Frank Rosenblatt’s death.

The planned book is about debates in cognitive science, and Joe is currently focusing on Frank Rosenblatt.  The most recent addition describes Tobermory, a 1963 hardware multi-layer neural network for speech recognition:

Nagy, George. 1963. System and circuit designs for the Tobermory perceptron. Technical report number 5, Cognitive Systems Research Program, Cornell University, Ithaca New York.

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Spoken command injection on Google/Siri/Cortana/Alexa

You could have predicted that as soon as speech I/O became a mass-market app, speech-based hacks would appear. And here comes one — Andy Greenberg, "Hackers can silently control Siri from 16 feet away", Wired 10/14/2015:

SIRI MAY BE your personal assistant. But your voice is not the only one she listens to. As a group of French researchers have discovered, Siri also helpfully obeys the orders of any hacker who talks to her—even, in some cases, one who’s silently transmitting those commands via radio from as far as 16 feet away.

A pair of researchers at ANSSI, a French government agency devoted to information security, have shown that they can use radio waves to silently trigger voice commands on any Android phone or iPhone that has Google Now or Siri enabled, if it also has a pair of headphones with a microphone plugged into its jack. Their clever hack uses those headphones’ cord as an antenna, exploiting its wire to convert surreptitious electromagnetic waves into electrical signals that appear to the phone’s operating system to be audio coming from the user’s microphone. Without speaking a word, a hacker could use that radio attack to tell Siri or Google Now to make calls and send texts, dial the hacker’s number to turn the phone into an eavesdropping device, send the phone’s browser to a malware site, or send spam and phishing messages via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Un Cupertino mignon

From reader JD in Montreal:

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This speaks for itself, I think — the first referral from the new Cuil search engine that I've noticed in our referrer logs:

(Click on the image for a larger version.)

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For any transformation which is sufficiently diversified…

Here on Language Log we have recently been twitted by readers who believe we have been insufficiently attentive to celebrity linguists, in particular Noam Chomsky (I find the idea that we should choose topics for our postings using personal fame as a guiding metric bizarre, but there it is). Mark Liberman has now responded, linking to a frivolous Facebook group pitting Chomsky against Labov. We've been frivolous about Chomsky before, in a posting about Ali G's interview of him; in two postings about Chomsky as the object of sexual arousal; and in a posting quoting Woody Allen's "The Whore of Mensa".

But (as Bruce Webster suggested to me) we seem not to have discussed the famous Chomskybot, which has been around in one version or another for about twenty years.

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Powerset bought by Microsoft

Powerset is a search engine that allows users to express their queries as phrases, rather than a few keywords.  It uses natural language processing (NLP) technologies to analyze the verb-argument structure of a query and deliver more focused search results, initially just from Wikipedia.  Powerset has attracted interest from the NLP community, as its services promise to demonstrate the value of NLP – and of language analysis more generally – in extracting information from the trillion or more words of text on the web.  On Tuesday, Microsoft announced it has acquired Powerset, and that Powerset will become part of Microsoft's Search Relevance team.  I hope this takeover means that natural language search will become mainstream, scaled up to the entire web, and used far more widely than before [Powerset blog|Microsoft Live Search blog].

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I'm in Marrakech for LREC2008, and so I should be blogging about all the interesting things going on here. But instead, at least today, I'm going to post the first installment of something that's been on my to-blog list since early April.

At the P.I. meeting of the DARPA GALE program, there was a panel discussion, chaired by Philip Resnik, on on the topic of Chinese-English machine translation. Or rather, according to Philip's introductory slide, on the topic "What the @#$% Do We Do About Chinese-English MT?"

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