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ECE Student Seminar - Conversational AI: Creating the Next Generation of Virtual Assistants

Event Details

Monday, November 29, 2021

12:30pm - 1:20pm

Van Leer Building, Room C241

For More Information


Mary Ann Weitnauer

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Event Details

Date: Monday, November 29, 2021

Time: 12:30 pm-1:20 pm

Location: Van Leer Building, Room C241

Speaker: Larry Heck

Speaker's Title: Professor Head of the AI Virtual Assistant (AVI) Lab

Speaker's Affiliation: Georgia Tech, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, School of Interactive Computing

Seminar Title: Conversational AI: Creating the Next Generation of Virtual Assistants

Abstract: In this talk, I will present a multi-faceted approach to create the next generation of virtual assistants. I have been developing this approach over the past decade including  
(1) Conversational Web:  bootstrapping conversational AI by leveraging the massive query-click stream of the web translated to dialogue systems and visual and knowledge grounding of dialogue over web and App screens 
(2) Master-Apprentice Learning:  virtual assistants (apprentices) learn higher-level AI skills from humans (masters) through dialogue and in-situ learning from interactive demonstrations  
(3) Machines-Teaching-Machines:  Virtual assistants learn from other virtual assistants through a Machines-Teaching-Machines approach inspired by DeepMind’s AlphaGo and applied to the collaborative “game” of goal-directed conversations.

The combination of the Conversational Web, Master-Apprentice Learning and Machines-Teaching-Machines yields a comprehensive approach to design the next generation of digital assistants that is always helpful and always learning in an open world. This approach has the potential to yield exponential growth in the collective intelligence of digital assistants.

Biosketch: Dr. Larry Heck is a Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and an adjunct Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he leads the AI Virtual Assistant (AVA) Lab. Prior to joining Georgia Tech this fall, he was the CEO of Viv Labs and Senior Vice President and Head of Bixby North America at Samsung. From 2014-2017, he was a Principal Scientist at Google, founding and leading an advanced Dialogue effort in Google Research. From 2009-­2014, he was the Chief Scientist of the Microsoft Speech products team and later a Distinguished Engineer in Microsoft Research. In 2009, he was a co-founder of Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant. From 2005-2009, he was Vice President at Yahoo! responsible for Search and Advertising quality. From 1998-2005, he was with Nuance Communications and served as Vice President of R&D. He began his career as a researcher at the Stanford Research Institute (1992-1998) initially in acoustics and later in speech research with the Speech Technology and Research (STAR) Laboratory. Funded by the US government's NSA and DARPA, his SRI Speaker Recognition team was the first to successfully create large-scale deep neural network (DNN) deep learning technology in the field of speech processing (1998 National Institute of Standards and Technology Speaker Recognition evaluation) and the first to deploy a major industrial application of deep learning.

Dr. Heck received the PhD in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1991. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, published numerous scientific papers and holds 50+ United States patents. He was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni at Georgia Tech and received the Distinguished Engineer Award from the Texas Tech University Whitacre College of Engineering.

Last revised November 8, 2021