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AI and terrific slang

Friday, 9 June, 2017 0 Comments

A lot of work on natural language processing involves designing algorithms that can understand meaning in written and spoken language and respond intelligently. Christopher Manning, Professor of Computer Science and Linguistics at Stanford University, relies on an offshoot of artificial intelligence known as “deep learning” to design algorithms that can teach themselves to understand meaning and adapt to new or evolving uses of language, such as slang. Andrew Myers spoke with Manning for Futurity about how AI (artificial intelligence) can teach itself slang. Snippet:

Can natural language processing adapt to new uses of language, to new words or to slang?

“That was one of the big limitations of early approaches. Words tend to pick up different usages and even meanings over time, often very remarkably. The world ‘terrific’ used to have a highly negative meaning — something that terrifies. Only recently has it become a positive term.

That’s one of the areas I’ve been involved in. Natural language processing, even if trained in the earlier meaning, can look at a word like ‘terrific’ and see the positive context. It picks up on those soft changes in meaning over time. It learns by examining language as it is used in the world.”


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