Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Berkeley: meetings with Feldman, Hautamäki, Nikravesh and Norvig

Today on Tuesday, 14th of November, Sari Stenfors took Tanja Kotro and myself to Berkeley. We first had a meeting with Prof. Jerome Feldman who provided information on ICSI. Dr. Antti Hautamäki from Sitra accompanied us. He is visiting Berkeley for two years researching innovation networks.

Jerry Feldman invited us to participate a seminar of the speech group. Malcolm Slaney from Yahoo! Research gave a presentation on issues such as timbre analysis, analysis of song dissimilarity and image relevance. The issue on image relevance reminded of the successful work in our lab on PicSOM, a content-based information browsing and retrieval system.

With Jerry Feldman we also discussed his latest book "From Molecule to Metaphor: A Neural Theory of Language". It emphasizes the important point of view that language should be considered not as an abstract symbol system but as a human biological ability that can be studied as a function of the brain.

Later the same day, we walked through the beautiful campus to Soda Hall in which BISC, Berkeley Initiative on Soft Computing is located. Dr. Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google, gave a presentation entitled "AI as the Future of Search". The seminar was chaired by Dr. Masoud Nikravesh from BISC. Peter Norvig was discussing issues such as the use of clustering algorithms, spelling, query refinement, statistical machine translation and learning from text or "machine reading". As we know, many results based on the vast data gathered by Google are convincing. Peter Norvig was also providing information on how Google collaborates with and supports the research community.

In the end of the day, Dr. Nikravesh kindly invited us to join a dinner in a Persian restaurant.

Masoud Nikravesh, Timo Honkela and Peter Norvig having a dinner.

The discussions ranged from science and technology to societal issues. We agreed that tools such as Google with the infrastructure of internet provide important means for positive future progress.

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