Wednesday, 11 July 2018 11:21

Monash University's natural move to appoint AI pioneer Prof Philip Cohen


When it comes to all things AI, one of the world's greats is Professor Philip Cohen, who has been appointed "director of the new Laboratory for Dialogue Research at Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology".

Monash University, whose March 2018 promo video "If you don't like it, change it" has been controversial, has announced Professor Cohen's appointment.

We're told that "the knowledge he brings through his pioneering work, in fields such as human-computer dialogue that led to the early development of Apple’s Siri, is a significant boost to FIT as it progresses its research in A.I and human-computer interaction".

"Professor Cohen’s career spans roles that extend beyond higher education including appointments as chief scientist, A.I, and senior vice-president for Advanced Technology at Voicebox Technologies, founder and chief executive of Adapx, and program director of Natural Program, A.I Centre at SRI International."

The University's media release for Prof Cohen continues, stating: "His academic career includes a position at Oregon Health and Science University. As Professor and Co- director for Human-Computer Interaction in the department of computer science and engineering, he led a $12M research project to develop multimodal interfaces and multi-agent systems.

"He also was one of the originators of the plan-based theory of dialogue, which has set the foundations for many multimodal dialogue system designs around the world. He co-designed and co-led the development of ‘Sketch-Thru-Plan’, the first multimodal system deployed by the US Government, which has been credited with revolutionising military planning.

"Professor Cohen has a PhD and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Mathematics from Cornell University.

"His research has mainly focused on natural language processing, A.I; assistant technology and intelligent agents, multimodal interfaces; speech, gesture, and pen.

"Professor Cohen is a Fellow of the American Association of Artificial Intelligence and former president of the Association for Computational Linguistics. He received an inaugural Influential Paper award from the International Foundation for Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems and was awarded the 2016 Sustained Accomplishment award from the International Conference on Multimodal Interaction.

"With an enviable track record for progressing the development of A.I from theory to practice, Professor Phil Cohen’s expertise will be invaluable for advancing research and teaching excellence in the Faculty of Information Technology."

At LinkedIn, Prof Cohen's entry shows him as having started at Monash University in May 2018, where he states: "Monash is the largest university in Australia, with campuses in 5 countries. The Faculty of Information Technology is growing rapidly, adding 50 (!) faculty in 3 years.

"I am establishing a Laboratory for Dialogue Research. Seeking 5 Faculty at all levels, in NLP, Multiagent Systems, Machine Learning, Knowledge Representation and Reasoning. Very well resourced. Women, minorities and international candidates encouraged to appy." (sic, presumably apply was meant).


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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