Emily M. Bender: masterclass at USI on the risks of language technologies


Institutional Communication Service

8 March 2024

Leading researcher in computational linguistics, Professor Emily M. Bender, will give the lecture "Meaning Making with Artificial Interlocutors and Risks of Language Technology". The lecture will be held in English, Friday 5 April 2024, at 2:00 p.m in A11 Palazzo Rosso USI West Campus.

Emily M. Bender is a Professor in the Department of Linguistics and an Adjunct Professor in the Information School and the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Information at the University of Washington. She is Faculty Director of the Professional Master's Programme in Computational Linguistics and Director of the Computational Linguistics Laboratory. Her research interests include endangered language documentation technology, computational semantics, and methodologies to support consideration of the impacts of language technology in NLP research, development, and education. Her public scholarship is focused on supporting public understanding of language technology.

Humans make sense of language in context, bringing into play their own understanding of the world and their interlocutor's model of understanding the world. In her talk, Emily M. Bender will explore various potential risks that arise when humans bring this sense-making capacity into interactions with artificial interlocutors. That is, she will ask what happens in conversations in which one party has no (or extremely limited) access to meaning and all the interpretive work falls to the other, and briefly explore what this means for the design of language technologies.

The event is organised by the Doctoral Programme in Applied Linguistics: Managing Languages, Arguments and Narratives in the Datafied Society (LAND). The programme is a collaboration between the Institute of Argumentation Linguistics and Semiotics (IALS) of USI and the Department of Applied Linguistics of Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), funded by swissuniversities. It is aimed at PhD students whose research project focuses on languages, data, argumentation and narrative.