Text and Meaning: Understanding Content

Location: 1A14 Level:
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What can and should your machine understand about what you are saying? On a typical day, you may browse several web pages, read and write emails, update your Facebook status, follow your favorite Twitterers, exchange text messages with friends, and so forth. All of these communications are machine-readable — and therefore, potentially machine-understandable.

We are entering an era in which mainstream users of technology products expect the systems they interact with to handle text in an intelligent manner. This session will explore the power and limitations of contemporary production-ready and research-grade text processing technologies which are being developed to meet these expectations. We will cover a variety of applications of semantic analysis and language processing, and discuss when and how these are best used — and the surprising interactions between user experience design choices and the success of any such AI system.

As a case study, we will focus on the diverse range of technologies used to build Aardvark, a social search engine which combines advanced text processing techniques with human intelligence to find answers to questions.

Photo of Damon Horowitz

Damon Horowitz


Dr. Damon Horowitz is a leading thinker at the intersection of technology and the humanities.

Horowitz recently joined Google as a Director of Engineering, leading several initiatives at the intersection of social and search. He came to Google from Aardvark, the popular social search engine, where he was co-founder and CTO, overseeing product development and research strategy. Prior to Aardvark, Horowitz built several companies around applications of intelligent language processing. He co-founded Perspecta (acquired by Excite), was lead architect for Novation Biosciences (acquired by Agilent), and co-founded NewsDB (now Daylife).

Horowitz teaches courses in philosophy, cognitive science, and computer science at many institutions, including Stanford, NYU, University of Pennsylvania, and San Quentin. He has spoken at conferences ranging from TED to AAAI to Web2.0, and his work has been featured in media ranging from the New York Times to Discovery Channel to TechCrunch. Horowitz was recently named one of the AdAge “Creativity 50” most inspiring thinkers and innovators of 2010.

Horowitz earned his B.A. from Columbia, M.S. from the MIT Media Lab, and Ph.D. from Stanford.

  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Awareness
  • Blue Kiwi Software
  • Ericsson Labs
  • Jive Software
  • Layered Technologies, Inc.
  • Neustar, Inc.
  • OpenText
  • Opera Software
  • Overtone
  • Qtask
  • Rackspace Hosting
  • Sony Ericsson

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