June 25, 2024


Epicurean computer & technology

On visit to Seattle, Iceland’s president has a message for Amazon and Microsoft – GeekWire

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Iceland’s President Guðni Jóhannesson speaks at the Nordic Innovation Summit in Seattle on May possibly 19, 2022. (Livestream screenshot)

Don’t fail to remember about the much less common languages when setting up electronic equipment and software program.

That was the message to community tech giants Microsoft and Amazon from the president of Iceland on his take a look at to Seattle this 7 days.

“No language ought to be left powering,” President Guðni Jóhannesson told attendees at the Nordic Innovation Summit on Thursday. The celebration was held at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle’s Ballard community.

Jóhannesson stated he doesn’t have a problem with English — his spouse is Canadian-born Eliza Reid — but that it’s critical to preserve languages that are spoken by lesser populations. The nation of Iceland is about 366,000 persons.

“We want to live in a modern society the place no person is still left powering, and know-how will have to be a drive for very good.”

Jóhannesson shared his problems through a panel with Nikko Strom, a distinguished scientist with Amazon, and Arul Menezes, a distinguished engineer with Microsoft.

Amazon’s Alexa speaks 17 languages, Strom claimed. Icelandic is not a person of them.

The company is incorporating languages, but it requires time and there are some privateness troubles with language datasets, Strom said. Amazon is employing new approaches to pace up the tempo. Alternatively of likely just one language at a time, it is now working with device understanding and AI “where one language can understand from one more language,” he stated.

“We want everybody to be capable to use Alexa,” Strom said. “That’s our target.”

Jóhannesson stated his country has created significant databases capturing the Icelandic language that it is happy to share with technology firms for inclusion with hardware and software program.

The Microsoft Translator app is conversant in 111 languages, Menezes explained. That does include Icelandic, but not Sámi, which encompasses many languages spoken in Northern Europe.


Menezes agreed with the importance of which include a range of languages in technological know-how merchandise. He observed that Microsoft has its AI for Cultural Heritage initiative, which is working to maintain endangered languages.

“Language is the foundation for society and culture,” he said.

Jóhannesson also raised the issue of tech access for folks with disabilities. Voice activated gadgets can be daily life switching for somebody with physical limits. Speech-to-text resources assistance persons for who are audio impaired, although audio gamers guide the blind.

“We want to are living in a modern society in which no one is left driving,” Jóhannesson reported, “and technology ought to be a force for superior.”

During a keynote discuss previous the panel, the president illustrated tech’s language limitations by conversing with Siri, Apple’s digital own assistant.

“Hey Siri, do you converse Icelandic?” he asked. Her reaction: “Hmm. I really do not have an reply for that. Is there a thing else I can help with?”


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