Tongues, Brains, Cookies, and Robots

Abstract


Language provides a precise lens into cognition and neuromotor function, and we are increasingly using machine intelligence to peer through that lens. Approximately 10% of North Americans have a communication disorder, which can originate physically (as in cerebral palsy and Parkinson's disease), cognitively (as in aphasia and Alzheimer's disease), or both (as in cardiovascular stroke). The incidences of these disorders are generally going to increase drastically, with aging populations in many nations, which will place a tremendous burden on clinical practitioners and caregivers who are already overworked. Repeatable, remote, and cost-effective assessment and computer-driven therapies are critical. Fortunately, modern speech technology, including automatic speech recognition (ASR), has matured to the point where it can now have a profound positive impact on the lives of millions of people, and on the healthcare system generally.

I am currently a Scientist at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, a status-only assistant professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, co-founder and President of WinterLight Labs Inc., and President of the international joint ACL/ISCA special interest group on Speech and Language Processing for Assistive Technologies. I am the recent recipient of the Young Investigator award from the Alzheimer's Society of Canada, the Early Researcher award from the Government of Ontario, and the Excellence in Applied Research award from National Speech-Language & Audiology Canada. My work involves machine-learning, human-computer interaction, speech-language pathology, rehabilitation engineering, signal processing, robotics, and linguistics.

More information can be found in my scientific publications, including my doctoral dissertation and one of my invited talks.