Bezos’ Funding Of Speech Studies Kindle Related?

Kindle still learning how to talk, too

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Billionaires donate to lots of causes for lots of reasons. Sometimes the donations are business related and sometimes they’re not.

Bill Gates helping out with third world vaccine refrigeration, for example, likely has no direct benefit to Microsoft. Likewise, Koch Industries funding George Mason University’s Mercatus Center’s “research” likely has no direct benefit to the company, either.

Oh wait, scratch that last example.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s charitable organization, the Bezos Foundation, could have a sincere interest in funding the early childhood learning research of the University of Washington’s Patricia Kuhl. Her research is pretty fascinating, especially her focus on how babies learn language.

For example, did you know that parental baby talk appears to be a universal phenomenon. In all languages and cultures across the globe—from Zulu in Africa to Mandarin in China—parents alter their speech for babies by raising the pitches of their voices and stretching out sounds to make them clearer.

Also very interesting is this factoid about Kuhl’s research:

Computer speech recognition is a topic of great interest for academics and business people. Dr. Kuhl’s laboratory is addressing machine learning by presenting infant-directed natural language to neural network models to see if it improves learning.

Amazon’s Kindle was in the news yesterday, not for more information on the next version, but because the device’s electronic reader has trouble pronouncing the President’s name correctly. Sounds like Amazon went a little heavy on the vanilla, there.

Now, it could be a coincidence the Bezos Foundation is funding cutting edge electronic speech recognition and infant speech development, or it could be one of those mutually beneficial arrangements. Either way, it’s pretty cool.

What’s also interesting is the stink book publishers made about the electronic reader earlier this year. When it looked to be a threat to their lucrative book-on-tape business, Amazon backed down and said they’d disable the feature.

Amazon wouldn’t be alone in its pursuit of voice-recognition glory. Google, among others, set up Google 411 expressly for that purpose.

Via Valleywag

Bezos’ Funding Of Speech Studies Kindle Related?
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  • http://www.webhosting-10.com Host

    Its really great to see those Billionaires donating a Pie out of their ultra earnings packages,Bill gates is really an example of this along with his nice friend Mr.Buffet.
    Great too see Jeff Bezos

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