Darpa’s CwC program to remove the communications gap between humans and machines

Communication is a complex process. So many factors go into getting two people to really understand one another. Many companies are working on it to provide an effective communication for greater efficiency and teamwork.

Communication is so important that it is not only limited to humans but it’s too important for to pets, the plants and the computers.  Sometimes people can talk with their pets, which really needs an effective communication. Unlike pets and plants, computers might one day respond and communicate so so thinks DARPA engineers.

DARPA’s new ‘Communicating with Computers’ (CwC) program aims to develop technology to turn computers into good communicators with humans.

If we look into this it’s not as easy as it seems. For a computer to be programmed to extract ideas from words that the speaker is saying and then relay it in another format to the listener is quite difficult task to perform. Importantly, both rely on context to narrow down the possible meanings of ambiguous words in the spoken language. All of these processes are particularly challenging for machines which are basically meant to deal in codes.

“Human communication feels so natural that we don’t notice how much mental work it requires,” said Paul Cohen, DARPA program manager. “But try to communicate while you’re doing something else –the high accident rate among people who text while driving says it all– and you’ll quickly realize how demanding it is.”

Communication through human to machine is getting shorter day by day whereas speakers and listeners consider such contextual aspects as what has been said already, the purposes of the communication, the best ways to express ideas, who they are speaking with, prevailing social conventions and the availability of other modes of expression such as gestures. And so, computers that might otherwise contribute more significantly to solving problems in a range of areas, including national security, remain in relatively simplistic roles such as crunching large datasets and providing driving directions.

If we look further than the ease of developing systems that communicate like as we do, the new CwC program will perform set of tasks similar to human speech. One task will involve collaborative story-telling, in which a human and a machine will both contribute to each other until they have written a short story.

“This is a parlor game for humans, but a tremendous challenge for computers,” said Cohen. “To do it well, the machine must keep track of the ideas in the story, and then generate an idea about how to extend the story and express this idea in language” he further added to it.

Another major task that the new program will aid to is to build computer-based models of the complicated molecular processes that cause cells to become cancerous. This program has already been started through the DARPA’s ‘Big Mechanism’ program, but the program does not collaborate with humans because machines do not read more deeply instead of read more quickly and widely than humans. Also machines can generate vast numbers of molecular models while humans are better judges of the biological plausibility of those proposed models.

In the intelligence-gathering domain machines’ superior ability to collect and store information and humans’ superior ability to develop interpretive narratives from such information would find greater synergy if the people and the machines could communicate better.

“Because humans and machines have different abilities, collaborations between them might be very productive. But today we view computers as tools to be activated by a few clicks or keywords, in large part because we are separated by a language barrier,” Cohen said. “The goal of CwC is to bridge that barrier, and in the process encourage the development of new problem-solving technologies.”

If everything goes according to DARPA’s plans we may actually have a non-robotic and emotionally aware PC buddy to share our thoughts in not so distant future.

Resource : DARPA.

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