Will robots destroy human language?

March 16th, 2017 by As consumers interact with AI like Alexa, Siri and Cortana – not to mention brand chatbots – more and more, human language will change. That was the topic of conversation at a recent panel during Social Media Week that asked in part whether technology will corrupt language. AI is also changing our relationship with technology, particularly among children who grow up with voice-enabled devices, and so the key for brands and marketers may very well be figuring out how to give robots more human-like speech, as well as to make them more empathetic. But that may also be easier said than done. History repeats itself Erin McKean, founder of online English dictionary Wordnik, noted the anxiety about technology changing language is nothing new. Greek philosopher Plato was against people writing things down because he thought it would ruin our memories, for example. Since then, virtually every innovation since – the printing press, radio, the telegraph, TV, movies and the internet – have all been accused of killing language, according to McKean. “The telegraph is a great example with modern parallels,” added Ben Zimmer, language columnist for the Wall Street Journal. “[Philosopher and poet Henry David] Thoreau thought it would help us communicate more quickly, but we’d have nothing to say. It stripped down language, causing language to be used in a very functional way.” Read more: The Drum

School uses robot to revive ancient language

November 13th, 2016 by A conference held last month, called the Australian Conference for Computers in Education, unveiled research into the impact of humanoid robots on students’ computational thinking. The aim of the study was to understand the impact of humanoid NAO robots on student learning, the integration of the robots into the curriculum and the pedagogical approaches that enhance and extend student learning. NAO robots, developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French robotics company, have been used for research and education purposes in schools and universities worldwide. As of 2015, over 5,000 NAO robots are in use in over 50 countries. One of these robots, called ‘Pink’, is part of a collaborative research project between the University of Queensland, the Queensland University of Technology, Swinburne University in Melbourne and the Association of Independent Schools of South Australia (AISSA). The students and teachers at Maitland Lutheran School have been using Pink to embed the language of the traditional owners of the land – the Narungga people, into the school’s new Digital Technologies subject. About 23% of the school’s students are Aboriginal. Read more: The Educator

Japan lines up translator robots for tourists

October 6th, 2015 by Japan is set to take its love affair with robots to the next level next year by offering small devices that can bridge the language barrier between tourists and locals. With Japan experiencing a tourism boom, Kinki Nippon Tourist and Japanese technology firm FueTrek have teamed up to make robot translators a reality. TTG Asia reports that “the companies are planning to launch a new service in early 2016 that will provide small robots capable of acting as translators, as well as tablet computers and wearable devices that will be able to translate speech in a number of languages.” The devices will use specially designed speech recognition and text translation software to help business owners communicate effectively with Japan’s influx of foreign visitors. Read more: Asian Correspondent