March 9: Android Participates in Linguistics Symposium

Language & Technology: A Linguistics Symposium
Friday, March 9, 12:15-4 p.m., Axinn 229

This symposium showcases the ways that scholars in computer science, mathematics, robotics, and other disciplines are using new technologies to understand, analyze, and replicate human language. For the first time at Middlebury College, an android will be an active participant in a symposium. The brainchild of Dr. Martine Rothblatt, founder of Sirius Satellite Radio, Bina48 interacts with humans through what are called “mindfiles.” Participants will be able to interact with Bina48 in English and rudimentary German.

The symposium itself also is a first in Middlebury history. Established in 2010, the Linguistics Program is an interdisciplinary field that studies language in all its different forms and manifestations around the world, spanning geographical, historical, and sociological divides. It provides a link between the humanities, the social sciences, education and the natural sciences.

In addition to android Bina48 and project manager Bruce Duncan, the symposium will also feature David Kauchak, assistant professor at Middlebury College’s Computer Science Department, who researches Wikipedia to study the relationship between machine learning and natural language processing. Chris Danforth, assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Vermont, will talk about his efforts to develop a “hedonometer,” which gauges happiness by analyzing a diverse set of large-scale texts in the blogosphere.

Symposium program for March 9, 2012, Axinn 229.

All events are free and open to the public. A free lunch and afternoon refreshments will be available.

12:15 p.m. Introduction- Aline Germain-Rutherford, Associate Vice President for Language Schools and Graduate Programs, Middlebury College

12:35 p.m. Learning to Simplify English Using Wikipedia, David Kauchak, Computer Science Department, Middlebury College

1:45 p.m. Measuring Happiness: Social Media as a Laboratory, Chris Danforth, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Vermont

3 p.m. Mind Files and Androids: A LifeNaut Project Update, Bruce Duncan (The Terasem Movement Foundation) and Bina48 (android)