University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Machine Intelligence Laboratory Speech Seminars > Can Robots Learn Language the Way Children Do?

Can Robots Learn Language the Way Children Do?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Marcus Tomalin.

Speech recognition machines are in use in more and more devices and services. Airlines, banks, and telephone companies provide information to customers via spoken queries. You can buy hand-held devices, appliances, and PCs that are operated by spoken commands. And, for around $100, you can buy a program for your laptop that will transcribe speech into text. Unfortunately, automatic speech recognition systems are quite error prone, nor do they understand the meanings of spoken messages in any significant way. I argue that to do so, speech recognition machines would have to possess the same kinds of cognitive abilities that humans display. Engineers have been trying to build machines with human-like abilities to think and use language for nearly 60 years without much success. Are all such efforts doomed to failure? Maybe not. I suggest that if we take a radically different approach, we might succeed. If, instead of trying to program machines to behave intelligently, we design them to learn by experiencing the real world in the same way a child does, we might solve the speech recognition problem in the process. This is the ambitious goal of the research now being conducted in my laboratory. To date, we have constructed three robots that have attained some rudimentary visual navigation and object manipulation abilities which they can perform under spoken command.

This talk is part of the Machine Intelligence Laboratory Speech Seminars series.

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