May 1st 2007: Information
Published by SD Times.
Editorials and Opinions
Industry Watch: You're Speaking My
You're Speaking My Language
By: David Rubinstein
May 1, 2007 - I think I woke Ami Cohen
from a sleep when I called him in mid-April to discuss an idea
he has for giving machines the ability understand vocal cues
at a high level.
If I did wake him, Cohen is one of those people
who doesn't take a long time to clear his mind and regain his
bearings-he was off on a 90-minute monologue that careened in
a number of directions within seconds of exchanging greetings
Let me back up a bit. Cohen reached out to
me last month to talk with him about his ideas for an EchoLogical
Machine, which executes business process management for distributed
manufacturing by robots. An Israeli by birth, Cohen has lived
in British Columbia since 1966. He says he has a background in
marine engineering, and has worked in real estate and other businesses
before committing to his flying sailboat project. (The boat doesn't
actually "fly"-it rises up to ride on top of the water,
leaving no wake.)
He has a vision for In-Cell Nomadic Intelligent
Manufacturing and Management Factories, which will include the
robots for forming the Rigid-Hulls necessary for the flying boat
project, and ultimately becoming part of his FlexibleFINS project,
as the fins attach to the hulls of his boats. For this kind of
work, Cohen sees the need "to have a machine I can talk
to like I'm talking to you," he said.
At this point in our conversation, Cohen started
talking about upgrading natural languages, the creation of USCIIIIII
(which we'll get into in more detail later on), and teaching
machines elements of speech.
All of this is in his head for now. The concepts
are quite interesting, to say the least, and Cohen is looking
for partners to help him build out the ideas. Read on, and let
me know what you think of Cohen's efforts.
"Machines need to recognize more than
identity," he said. "Speech is not a monotone thing.
Talking is like singing. The goal is to have a thinking and singing
Cohen sees a future in which we can teach
machines all the ways to say the letter a, for example: a, aye,
ay, ah; or b, which could be buh, bee, bih, beh. "You can
give it a true voiceprint," he said.
To do so, he's created something called the
Universal Standard Code for Internationally Intelligent Intensively
Interactive Information Interchange (the aforementioned USCIIIIII).
"This will be the operating font that can recognize multiple
languages, to have accurate voiceprint recognition," Cohen
Only with something like USCIIIIII can machines
begin to share a culture with the human it is interfacing with,
Cohen stated. The Echological Machine that Cohen has devised
in his mind is the logic mechanism that describes how to instruct
a machine in binary to understand speech. By adding super-vowels,
or diacritics, to English, Cohen is creating an extra layer of
instruction for the machine-the symbolic instruction code that
has the logic about sentences, so the machine will know the difference
between "Go to the bank and make a deposit" and "The
river bank is muddy" and "The airplane is banking."
Perhaps because of his Israeli upbringing,
Cohen believes Hebrew can be the model for upgrading natural
languages because Hebrew is a structured language that has a
root system of single-letter words and double-letter words that
are the root of all other words. "In English, you have architect,
and architecture, but then it goes off to build, building, then
brick, bricklaying. They aren't true roots," Cohen said.
Believing that this all can be done takes
faith, and Cohen has no shortage of that. In fact, he says the
Hebrew language is the true vocal signature of nature, where
communications can be seen and heard by listening to all sounds
around us at all times. "It is a language of God, for simple
people," he says.
Cohen speaks at 110 miles an hour, changing
topics the way impatient drivers change lanes. Following him
can be difficult. But it seems to me there are some very valid
points in all that he says, and Cohen said he's looking for partners
to help bring his visions to fruition.
In an e-mail follow-up to our phone conversation,
Cohen wrote he would like to open doors "to teams already
advanced in the art of universal natural logic and languages'
powers in automation and for computing as well as remotely operated
intelligent universal robotics."
You've heard what Ami Cohen thinks. We want
to hear what you think.
David Rubinstein is editor-in-chief of
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