what lies ahead?

Technology Spotlight

Someday we'll be able to discuss Proust with our TVs. But we may need to practice our enunciation first.

Talk to the Screen
Researchers are hard at work developing ways for humans and computers to have more  meaningful dialogue.

Machine Voices
People react to computer voices - or conversational interfaces -  in the same way they react to human ones.

baldy, courtesy dr. cliff nass, stanford university

Stanford's Cliff Nass explains the video Matched Guise Test.

Researchers and technology companies alike want to move from today's speech recognition systems with their highly restricted vocabularies and unnatural pauses between words (think: directory assistance or booking a train ticket) to the Star Trek or 2001: A Space Odyssey (the HAL 2000) scenario where computers can engage in spontaneous conversation. But teaching computers to understand and respond to completely naturally spoken dialogue is, in the words of one expert, like teaching computers to breathe. It's a big challenge, but one many predict will be met this century.  Learn more about spoken language systems from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

diagram of speech understanding  processes, courtesy: MIT

Additional Resources

Sponsored by:

National Endowment for the Humanities Hewlett Foundation Ford Foundation   Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Carnegie Corporation

National Endowment
for the Humanities

William and Flora Hewlett


Rosalind P.

Arthur Vining
Davis Foundations

Corporation of New York