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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Education must get media’s attention: Atwal at IIIT-A

Mass media must give credence to education. The corporate sector and industry must support the study of science and its research and development, as they gain from it the most, said deputy speaker of the Lok Sabha, at IIIT-A.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 18 Dec 2008 Views:1170 Comments:0

THE MASS media should not confine itself to entertainment and sports. Education must get some attention from the mass media, which has emerged as a significant agent of social change.

These views were expressed by Charanjit Singh Atwal, deputy speaker, Lok Sabha, while addressing as the chief Guest at the Science Conclave at Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIIT-A) here on Thursday (Dec 18).

He said once society realises the importance of science, parents will encourage children to opt for sciences and schools will provide better facilities for encouraging scientific study as a discipline. As is done in the western countries, the corporate sector and the industry must support the study of science and research in our centres of higher learning like the universities, IITs and IIITs, rather than leave it entirely to the state as they are the immediate beneficiaries of the advances in science.

“Similarly, we need to promote science events like this one to inculcate interest in science among the people; IIIT-A’s effort to hold Science Conclave is an innovative idea. Bagging the Noble prize is a lifetime task of ceaseless endeavor and constant study and only a few are fortunate enough to get it. The ability to interact with such versatile minds like Prof Claude Choen Tannudji, Prof Jerome Issac Friedman, Prof Harlold Kroto and Prof Martin L Perl is indeed very fortunate. I am sure it would prove to be very inspiring for the participating pool of scientists to learn several things from these scholars,” said the Atwal.

He said the TV, which is very popular now-a-days, hardly offers any science programmes to fire the imagination of the younger generations. “I am glad that AIR has a programme called science magazine named radio scope, though radio had lost much its earlier popularity to the TV. Gone were the days when children were made to listen to the radio classes at the school level as part of learning”.

Presiding over today’s function, Prof Raj Reddy from Carneige Mellon University spoke on the intelligence system. He said Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a big science, demanding a significant chunk of research and amount. In this age of huge budget deficits and many exciting ideas competing for constant research funds, it is only natural for a research manager to want to invest the research dollar wisely in activities.

Referring recent advances in AI, he said that what can we do today that we could not do thirty years ago? It is fortunate that AI has several areas in which there has been sustained research over the past twenty to thirty years. These areas are chess, natural language, speech, vision, robotics and expert systems.

He illustrated the progress by providing a historical perspective on some of these areas. Speech recognition has a long history of being one of the difficult problems in AI and computer science. As one goes from problem solving tasks to perceptual tasks, the problem characteristics change dramatically: knowledge poor to knowledge rich; low data rates to high data rates; slow response time (minutes to hours) to instantaneous response time. These characteristics taken together increase the computational complexity of the problem by several orders of magnitude.

Further, speech provides a challenging task domain, which embodies many of the requirements of intelligent behavior: operate in real time; exploit vast amounts of knowledge; tolerate erroneous data; use language and learn from the environment.
Voice input to computers offers a number of advantages. It provides a natural, hands-free, eyes-free, location- free input medium.

However, there are many as yet unsolved problems that prevent routine use of speech as an input device by non experts. These include cost, real-time response, speaker independence, robustness to variations such as noise, microphone, speech rate and loudness, and the ability to handle spontaneous speech phenomena such as repetitions and restarts. Satisfactory solutions to each of these problems can be expected within the next decade.

Recognition of unrestricted spontaneous continuous speech appears unsolvable at the present. However, by the addition of simple constraints, such as a clarification dialogue to resolve ambiguity, we believe it will be possible to develop systems capable of accepting very large vocabulary and continuous speech dictation before the turn of the century.

Work in speech recognition predates the invention of computers. However, serious work in speech recognition started in the late fifties with the availability of digital computers equipped with A/D converters. The problems of segmentation, classification, and pattern matching were explored in the sixties and a small vocabulary connected speech robot control task was demonstrated. In the early seventies, the role of syntax and semantics in connected speech recognition was explored and demonstrated as part of the speech understanding program.

Dr M D Tiwari, IIIT-A director in his welcome speech said Science Conclave had proved to be significant one. Students here had got a rare chance with interacting with five different Nobel scientists. He said this Conclave was set to revolutionise our present pattern of basic science subjects. Dr Tiwari presented the deputy Lok Sabha speaker a key of knowledge as a momento of the Science Conclave.

On Wednesday cultural evening, renowned Gazal singer Pinaz Masani enthralled the audience with her love, pain and patriotism based gazals. Students danced to the tune of Dama Dum Mast Kalandar.

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