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algorithms + language / language + algorithms

A Colloquium on the Interface between Linguistics and Computer Science

In the last decade, advances in AI ('artificial intelligence') have been boosted by machine learning and deep learning. This has seen AI becoming commercially viable in new ways, most notably in the form of image and speech recognition. Some of the most high-profile instances of these applications are machine translations, voice-user interfaces and virtual assistants such as Siri or Alexa, as well as the recognition of signs and pedestrians by so-called driverless cars. All of which have immediate, concrete ramifications for people’s everyday lives, too.

Neither good nor bad, AI can be used in different ways. Speech recognition may be used to improve customer services while image recognition can help facilitate better, faster medical diagnoses. Both may, however, also be used for the purposes of monitoring, manipulating and controlling people. Not surprisingly, AI has its staunch advocates and its fierce critics. These tensions are at the heart of this special interdisciplinary colloquium.

Hosted by the IAM MediaLab in co-operation with the VALS-ASLA Research Network on Communication and Digitization, the colloquium brings together two scholars working at the interface of language and machines.

Rodney Jones, Professor of Sociolinguistics, University of Reading, UK
Regarded internationally for his research on language and digital media, Professor Jones is particularly interested in how digital media affect the way people conduct social interactions and manage social identities. In his latest work, he has been developing a critical, sociolinguistic approach to the study of contemporary surveillance cultures. This work centers on the notion of an 'algorithmic pragmatics' for addressing how information flows and inferential processes in social interactions are affected when they are mediated through digital technologies. 

Thilo Stadelmann, Professor of Computer Science, ZHAW, Switzerland
Professor Stadelmann's research interest lies in understanding how computers can perform tasks that previously only humans could do, specifically with respect to making sense of high-dimensional sensory input such as audio or images. His current research focuses on deep learning methods applied to diverse pattern recognition use cases such as voice recognition, musical object detection or document analysis. Findings translate back to the method itself, and to the applicability, opportunities and risks of AI in business and in society at large.

The colloquium will open with presentations by the invited speakers who will outline their current research agendas. This will be followed by a dialogue and open discussion about current and potential interfaces between linguistics and computer science.

Organizers and co-sponsors: Professors Aleksandra Gnach (ZHAW), Marcel Burger (University of Lausanne) and Crispin Thurlow (University of Bern).

Register now

Download programm(PDF 87,4 KB)


Von: 17. Oktober 2019, 17.00 Uhr


ZHAW, Gebäude SM, Mäander C, Winterthur
Theaterstrasse 15c
8401 Winterthur


ZHAW Institut für Angewandte Medienwissenschaft
Theaterstrasse 15c
8401 Winterthur