Can language emerge out of nothing? How do we build synthetic voices for those who have lost theirs? And why is it so hard to teach robots to talk?
Pint of Science (15th - 17th May) is an annual event which sees researchers gathering in pubs, bars, cafes, converted warehouses and breweries across the UK to discuss their weird and wonderful findings with the public.
We’re delighted that experts in linguistics and speech technology will be representing PPLS at two Edinburgh events this year, so pull up a pew and dive in! (Mine’s a tonic water with lemon, no ice.)
Professors Alice Turk and Simon King will be tag-teaming with two different topics on the common theme: how do you communicate if you can’t speak?
Alice’s talk will discuss the example of Nicaraguan Sign Language – a pivotal case study of how communication develops in a group of people brought together without access to spoken language – and what this tells us about how language (spoken and signed) works.
Simon will discuss work he’s been part of at Edinburgh investigating how we can help people who lose their natural voice (e.g. through stroke or motor neurone disease) retain the sense of identity from their own individual voice.
Dr Korin Richmond’s talk will focus on the history of human endeavour to get machines to speak. He’ll cover the progress we’ve made, what has made that leap from science fiction to reality possible, and why are some things still so difficult?! What will the future hold for human-robot communication? Relax with a G&T as Korin reveals all. He’ll be joined by Dr Frank Broz (Heriot-Watt University) who’ll be discussing how to build robots that can understand non-verbal communication as well as verbal.
Alice Turk teaches phonetic linguistics and one of her key research interests involves speech production.
Simon King is the Director for the Centre of Speech and Technology Research, a world-leading centre linking research into speech synthesis and automatic speech recognition across Informatics and Linguistics and English Language.
Korin Richmond is a member of the Centre for Speech and Technology Research, where his work focuses on speech synthesis and articulatory modelling.
Pint of Science is an annual event bringing together researchers and their local communities to discuss the past, present and future of research in an informal setting.