Alexa & Friends features Amazon Scholar Julia Hirschberg
Hirschberg explains why mastering empathetic speech is critical for successful dialogue systems.
On July 22, Julia Hirschberg, an Amazon Scholar and professor of computer science at Columbia University, joined Jeff Blankenburg, principal Alexa evangelist, on Alexa & Friends to discuss her work in speech and natural language processing, and her ongoing research into one of the biggest unresolved challenges for dialogue systems: detecting what people are feeling and addressing it appropriately.
In August 2020, Hirschberg joined the Alexa AI Natural Understanding organization, which is working on multimodal enhancements for Alexa and developing models to identify dialogue acts using speech as well as text.
Hirschberg is the Percy K. and Vida L. W. Hudson Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University and was Chair of the Computer Science Department at Columbia from 2012 to 2018.
She earned her second PhD in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked at Bell Laboratories and AT&T Laboratories for 19 years as a member of technical staff and a department head, creating the Human-Computer Interface Research Department.
Hirschberg has spent most of her career studying speech and the intonation in text-to-speech synthesis and how to improve it. Since 2016 she has been working on diversity issues with the International Speech Communication Association, which runs the Interspeech conference.