University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, March 10th 2016

Keynote Talks

Ann Blandford

Ann Blandford FBCS CEng PhD
Professor of Human-Computer Interaction & Director of UCL Institute of Digital Health

Empowering people through computing


Current computing has made possible many things that were unimaginable to earlier generations; these changing capabilities are transforming people's lives. To be an effective force for good, computing has to "work" at many levels: the software (and hardware) has to be reliable and perform as intended; it also has to work well for people - to empower rather than diminish them. In this talk, I will present studies of computing technology use in practice and illustrate how a better understanding of use can be used as a resource for design and software engineering. I will draw on examples from information systems and health technologies.


Ann Blandford is Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at University College London and Director of the UCL Institute of Digital Health. Her research now focuses on the design and use of interactive technologies for health and wellbeing. Her first degree is in Mathematics (from Cambridge) and her PhD in Artificial Intelligence (from the Open University). She was a post-doctoral researcher at the Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge, working on the AMODEUS project, then a Lecturer, rising rapidly to Professor, at Middlesex University (Computer Science). She moved to UCL as Senior Lecturer in 2002, and was (re-)promoted to Professor in 2005. When not working, she can generally be found either playing with her grandsons or rock climbing.


Aly Pitts
Analytical Linguist at Google

A global approach to Speech Recognition


It's an exciting time to be in Speech, with hands-free technologies wanting in on the action for Automatic Speech Recognition [ASR] and the most natural-sounding Text-To-Speech [TTS] synthesis. I'll start with an insight into the work of an Analytical Linguist, where research and engineering go hand-in-hand when working to continually roll out quality improvements. We'll then look into the strengths and limitations of a template approach across natural languages for ASR - grounded in the innocent act of telling time.


Aly completed her PhD in Linguistics at Cambridge in 2009, then spent three years as a Lecturer (two in Finland) before finally applying her interest in formal logic to coding when she switched to industry; joining the Speech recognition team for HP Autonomy in Cambridge. She then joined Google in 2013 as an Analytical Linguist for Speech, which is steadily chipping away at the modest mission of supporting the 6500(ish) languages spoken worldwide.

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