Tremendous progress has been made in conversational AI since the launch of Alexa in November 2014. Deep learning enabled advances in transfer learning and semi-supervised learning have enabled us to scale quickly to new languages, domains, and features. Nevertheless, this is still very much Day 1 for conversational AI with a whole world of challenges and opportunities in front of us – from multimodality, self-learning, user-driven teaching, and so much more. Redeeming the full potential of these opportunities will require the efforts of top talent in industry and academia. In his presentation, Dr. Prem Natarajan will review some of the salient advances of the past few years, discuss some of the key forward-looking scientific challenges and opportunities, and the role of benchmarks such as the Alexa Prize in driving change. He will conclude with a brief look at the work being done at the Columbia Center for AI Technologies which was established in collaboration with Amazon.
Dean Mary Boyce will give introduction remarks. Following the lecture, Dr. Natarajan will have a brief one-on-one conversation with CAIT Director, Prof. Shih-Fu Chang, on the exciting direction of the field of Artificial Intelligence.
Dr. Prem Natarajan is a Vice President in the Alexa organization where he leads a multidisciplinary science, engineering, and product organization responsible for advancing the state-of-the-art in conversational AI technologies including natural language understanding, intelligent dialog and decision systems, entity linking and resolution, computer vision, and for associated worldwide runtime operations. In his previous roles at the University of Southern California and at Raytheon BBN Technologies, Dr. Natarajan directed nationally influential research and development efforts in speech recognition, natural language understanding, computer vision and related areas in machine learning. Most recently, at Amazon, he helped launch the Fairness in AI (FAI) program – a collaborative effort between NSF and Amazon for funding fairness focused research efforts in US universities.