On the Integration of Grounding Language and Learning Objects

Chen Yu and Dana H. Ballard

This paper presents a multimodal learning system that can ground spoken names of objects in their physical referents and learn to recognize those objects simultaneously from naturally co-occurring multisensory input. There are two technical problems involved: (1) the correspondence problem in symbol grounding — how to associate words (symbols) with their perceptually grounded meanings from multiple cooccurrences between words and objects in the physical environment. (2) object learning — how to recognize and categorize visual objects. We argue that those two problems can be fundamentally simplified by considering them in a general system and incorporating the spatio-temporal and crossmodal constraints of multimodal data. The system collects egocentric data including image sequences as well as speech while users perform natural tasks. It is able to automatically infer the meanings of object names from vision, and categorize objects based on teaching signals potentially encoded in speech. The experimental results reported in this paper reveal the effectiveness of using multimodal data and integrating heterogeneous techniques in machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision.

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