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Dr. Linda Heimisdottir gives a TedX talk on how LLMs could lead to small language "digital death"

On May 24, 2024,  Phonetics Lab alumnus Dr. Linda Heimisdottir (PhD 2015) gave a TEDx Reykjavik lecture titled "Will AI be able to speak your language"?


In this talk, Linda discusses whether linguistic diversity will survive the AI (Artificial Intelligence) revolution.  Quoting Linda:


"My concern is that the rise of artificial intelligence in the field of language technology will accelerate the digital death of small languages. What I mean by digital death, by the way, is that the native speakers of a language stop using it all together in the digital domain, for whatever reason, but usually it's because it's just not as convenient as using a more dominant language like English. And with the virtual domain occupying more and more of our time, and our children's time. well then, the digital death of a language can actually threaten its very existence."


Despite this worrisome possibility, Linda also presented ways to effectively incorporate small languages into Large Language Models via language-specific real-time transcription apps and  Cross-Lingual Transfer Learning.  


Linda is 2015 Cornell Linguistics PhD, and is currently the CEO of Miðeind, an Icelandic AI company which specializes in building Language Technology solutions for Icelandic and other under-resourced languages



28th May 2024

Annabelle di Lustro travels to Japan for the KAKEHASHI Project

First-year Linguistics grad student Annabelle di Lustro recently participated in the KAKEHASHI Project, an exchange program for young American researchers to visit Japan,  sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA).   (This picture of Annabelle was taken at 大内宿 (Ōuchi-juku) - a very old rural town in the mountains of Fukushima prefecture.)

 “Kakehashi” means a “bridge” in Japanese, and the program serves to act as a bridge between the cultures of the US and Japan.  MOFA commissioned the Japan International Cooperation Center (JICE) to organize the program,  which 
 included graduate students from Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, and George Washington University. 

During her eight days in Japan, Annabelle participated in various cultural experiences such as:

    -Traditional  Japanese dyeing in Tokyo

    -A brief stay with a host family in Minamiaizu

    -Lectures at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the University of Aizu,

    -A talk by Professor Watanabe Yasushi at Keio University, Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC) on the international politics of Japan and soft power

Annabelle - who majored in Japanese and Linguistics as an undergraduate at North Carolina State University - also learned more about Japanese history and culture through a trip to the Tokyo National Museum , and a visit to  Panasonic introduced her to Japanese modern technology and innovation.  


Reflecting on her trip, Annabelle believes that her experiences have affected her research goals.  In her words:


"I think the homestay in particular influenced my relationship with Japanese and my future studies. When my host father was explaining a concept or festival I'd never heard of, he would use text to speech to show me the kanji and translation. It usually took him a few tries, though, before the AI was able to pick up what he was saying due to his dialect.


"I have always been interested in dialectology (I attended undergrad in North Carolina aka "Dialect Heaven"), but this experience definitely furthered my desire to pursue dialectology in the realm of Japanese language and not just American English." 



10th February 2024

Dr. Linda Heimisdottir receives award from the President of Iceland

Phonetics Lab alumnus and Miðeind CEO Dr. Linda Heimisdottir (PhD 2015)  received the main Sky IT award for Miðeind's outstanding contributions to Icelandic Information Technology.


The award was given by HE Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, president of Iceland, at the UTmessan 2024 event earlier today. UTmessan is one of the largest IT events in Iceland, and it's purpose is to highlight the importance of information technology and its effects on individuals, businesses, and Icelandic society alike.

The award recognizes Miðeind’s substantial contribution to Icelandic language technology and artificial intelligence, as well as their successful collaboration with OpenAI, aimed at supporting Icelandic in their LLMs (Large Language Models).   


About Miðeind:


Miðeind is a privately owned software company based in Reykjavík, Iceland, specializing in Language Technology (LT), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications for the Icelandic language.


The company's mission is to enable Icelandic businesses and the public to benefit from the rapid global progress now happening in the fields of Language Technology and Artificial Intelligence.


In addition to "traditional" LT tools, Miðeind is implementing AI-based services for Icelandic, such as text summarization and question answering.


Most software developed by Miðeind is open source and freely available on GitHub under GNU GPLv3 or MIT licenses. Use of the software under a different license is negotiable.






9th February 2024

Robin Karlin Accepts Assistant Professor Position at University of Missouri

Phonetics Lab alumnus Dr. Robin Karlin  (Ph.D. 2018) has accepted an Assistant Professor position in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Missouri. 

25th August 2023