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Keynote Speakers

The following speakers have graciously agreed to give keynotes at ACL 2022.

Angela D. Friederici

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

Language in the human brain

Language is considered to be a uniquely human faculty. The different aspects of the language system, namely phonology, semantics and syntax have long been discussed with respect to their species-specificity. Syntax as the ability to process hierarchical structures appears to be specific to humans. The available neuroscientific data allow us to define the functional language network which involves Broca's area in the inferior frontal cortex and the posterior superior temporal cortex. Within this network, the posterior part of Broca's area plays a special role as it supports the processing of hierarchical syntactic structures, in particular the linguistic computation Merge which is at the root of every language. This part of Broca's area is connected to the posterior temporal cortex via a dorsally located white matter fiber tract hereby providing to structural basis for the functional interplay of these regions. lt has been shown that the maturation of this white matter pathway is directly correlated with the ability to process syntactically complex sentences during human development. Moreover, this dorsal pathway appears to be weak in the prelinguistic infant and in the non-human primate. These findings suggest that the dorsal pathway plays a crucial role in the emergence of syntax in human language.


Short Bio

Angela D. Friederici is a cognitive neuroscientist in the domain of language. She is director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig, Germany and the Founding director of this institution founded in 1994.


She graduated in linguistics and psychology at the University of Bonn (Germany) and spent a postdoctoral year at MIT (USA). She was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen (NL), at the University Rene Descartes, Paris (F) and University of California, San Diego (USA). Prior to joining the Max Planck Society as a director, she was professor for Cognitive Sciences at the Free University Berlin.


Friederici is honorary professor at the University of Leipzig (Psychology), the University of Potsdam (Linguistics) and the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Neurology) and she holds a Doctor honoris causa from the University of Mons, Belgium. Between 2014 and 2020 she was Vice President for the Human Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society.


Her main field of research is the neurobiology of language. She published about 500 scientific papers on this topic in major international journals. She received a number of scientific awards: 1987 Heisenberg Fellowship of the German Research Foundation, 1990 Alfried Krupp Award of the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach-Stiftung, 1997 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation, and 2011 Carl Friedrich Gauss Medal of the Brunswick Scientific Society. She is member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, member of the national German Academy of Sciences 'Leopoldina' and member of the Academia Europaea.

Moderator: Mark Steedman

University of Edinburgh, UK


Mark Steedman is a Professor in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.  His research in Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence is at the interdisciplinary interface of computer science and cognitive science.  His work applies computational modeling and machine learning to the analysis of natural language syntax and semantics, and music.


His most widely recognised invention is Combinatory Categorial Grammar (CCG), a computationally practical and linguistically explanatory theory of natural language grammar and processing.  His work has been recognized in its linguistic aspect by a Fellowship of the British Academy, and in its applied aspect, by Fellowships of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), and the Cognitive Science Society. In 2018, Steedman received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the ACL. His students are employed at Google, Facebook, DeepMind, Apple, and Amazon, as well as on the faculties of the world's leading universities.

Keynote Fire-side Chat with Barbara Grosz and Yejin Choi on
“The Trajectory of ACL and the Next 60 years”

For the 60th Anniversary of ACL 2022, we will feature a keynote fire-side chat on “The Trajectory of ACL and the Next 60 years” with two keynote talks in dialogue: Barbara Grosz and Yejin Choi followed by a moderated discussion lead by Rada Mihalcea.

Barbara J. Grosz

Harvard University SEAS

Remarks on What the Past Can Tell the Future

Research in computational linguistics and spoken language systems has made astonishing progress in the last decade. Even so, the challenge remains of achieving human-level fluent dialogue conversational capabilities beyond narrowly defined domains and tasks. Findings of earlier ACL times research on dialogue hold some lessons for breaking the “dialogue boundary” in computational linguistics yet again, if ways can be found to integrate them into deep-learning language models. These models raise some of the most serious ethical challenges of current computing research and technologies. Expanding their powers in this direction will raise more. In discussing these topics, I will raise questions for Prof. Choi and our subsequent discussion.


Short Bio

Barbara J. Grosz is Higgins Research Professor of Natural Sciences in the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Her contributions to AI include fundamental advances in natural-language dialogue processing and in theories of multi-agent collaboration as well as innovative uses of models developed in this research to improve healthcare coordination and science education. She co-founded Harvard's Embedded EthiCS program, which integrates teaching of ethical reasoning into core computer science courses. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she is a fellow of several scientific societies and recipient of  the 2009 ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award, the 2015 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence, and the 2017 Association for Computational Linguistics Lifetime Achievement Award.

Yejin Choi

Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington

2082: An ACL Odyssey: The Dark Matter of Intelligence and Language

In this talk, I will wander around reflections on the past of ACL and speculations on the future of ACL. This talk will be purposefully imaginative and accidentally controversial, by emphasizing on the importance of deciphering the dark matter of intelligence, by arguing for embracing all the ambiguous aspects of language at all pipelines of language processing, by highlighting the counterintuitive continuum across language, knowledge, and reasoning, and by pitching the renewed importance of formalisms, algorithms, and structural inferences in the modern deep learning era.


Looking back, at the 50'th ACL, I couldn't possibly imagine that I would be one day giving this very talk. For that reason, I will also share my personal anecdotes on the lasting inspirations from the previous lifetime achievement award speeches, how I believe talent is made, not born, and the implication of that belief for promoting diversity and equity.


Short Bio

Yejin Choi is Brett Helsel Professor at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington and a senior research manager at AI2 overseeing the project Mosaic. Her research investigates commonsense knowledge and reasoning, neuro-symbolic integration, neural language generation and degeneration, multimodal representation learning, and AI for social good. She is a co-recipient of the ACL Test of Time award in 2021, the CVPR Longuet-Higgins Prize in 2021, a NeurIPS Outstanding Paper Award in 2021, the AAAI Outstanding Paper Award in 2020, the Borg Early Career Award in 2018, the inaugural Alexa Prize Challenge in 2017, IEEE AI's 10 to Watch in 2016, and the ICCV Marr Prize in 2013.

Moderator:  Rada Mihalcea

Computer Science and Engineering, University of Michigan

Short Bio

Rada Mihalcea is the Janice M. Jenkins Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan and the Director of the Michigan Artificial Intelligence Lab. Her research interests are in computational linguistics, with a focus on lexical semantics, multilingual natural language processing, and computational social sciences. She was a program co-chair for EMNLP 2009 and ACL 2011, and a general chair for NAACL 2015 and *SEM 2019. She currently serves as ACL Past President. She is the recipient of a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers awarded by President Obama (2009), she is an ACM Fellow (2019) and a AAAI Fellow (2021). In 2013, she was made an honorary citizen of her hometown of Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Keynote Panel on “Supporting Linguistic Diversity”
(chaired by Steven Bird)

Chair: Steven Bird, Charles Darwin University

Panelists and languages represented:

– Robert Jimerson, Rochester Institute of Technology (Seneca, USA)

– Fajri Koto, The University of Melbourne (Minangkabau, Indonesia)

– Heather Lent, University of Copenhagen (Creole languages)

– Teresa Lynn, Dublin City University (Irish)

– Manuel Mager, University of Stuttgart (Wixaritari, Mexico)

– Perez Ogayo, Carnegie Mellon University (Luo and Kiswahili, Kenya)


How do the tools and techniques of computational linguistics serve the full diversity of the world’s languages? In particular, how do they serve the people who are still speaking thousands of local languages, often in highly multilingual, post-colonial situations? This 60th meeting of the ACL features a special theme track on language diversity with the goal of “reflecting and stimulating discussion about how the advances in computational linguistics and natural language processing can be used for promoting language diversity”. This keynote talk-panel will showcase the special theme and identify key learnings from the conference. We hope this session will help to shape the future agenda for speech and language technologies in support of global linguistic diversity. The session will be organised around a series of questions under three headings.


Diverse Contexts. What is the situation of local languages where panel members are working? Are there multiple languages with distinct functions and ideologies? What are the local aspirations for the future of these languages. How are people advocating for language technology on the ground? How did the work begin? What does success look like?


Understanding Risks. Do the people who provide language data fully understand the ways their data might be used in future, including ways that might not be in their interest? What benefit are local participants promised in return for their participation, and do they actually receive these benefits? Are there harms that come with language standardisation? What principles of doing no harm can we adopt?


New Challenges. How can we provide benefits of text technologies without assuming language standardisation, official orthography, and monolingual usage? When working with local communities, do we always require data in exchange for technologies, or is a non-extractive NLP possible? How do we decolonise speech and language technology? At the beginning of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022–2032, we ask: how do we respond as a community, and how can our field be more accessible to indigenous participation?

Bios of Panelists:


Steven Bird has spent much of his research career pursuing scalable computational methods for capturing, enriching, and analysing data from endangered languages, drawing on fieldwork in West Africa, South America, and Melanesia. Over the past 5 years he has shifted to working from the ground up with remote Aboriginal communities, supporting language learning and development in an Aboriginal ranger program, school, and arts centre.


Robert Jimerson is a PhD candidate in the Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology.  One of Robert’s areas of research is using deep learning algorithms in automatic speech recognition of low-resource Indigenous languages.  Robert is a member of the Seneca Nation and a speaker of the Seneca language, a North American Indigenous language that is a part of the Hodinöhšöni/Rotinohshonni (Iroquoian) family of languages.


Fajri Koto is an Australia Awards awardee and a fourth-year PhD student at the School of Computing and Information Systems, the University of Melbourne, with research interests in NLP for Indonesian languages, text summarization, generation and discourse analysis. Fajri is a native speaker of Minangkabau and Indonesian, and his ongoing research is on NLP systems for ten Indonesian local languages including Acehnese, Ngaju, Madurese, Bataknese, Buginese, Banjarese, Sundanese, Balinese, Javanese, and Minangkabau. Previously, Fajri joined Amazon and Samsung R&D Institute as a research scientist.


Heather Lent is a Ph.D. fellow at the University of Copenhagen with the Datalogisk Institut in Denmark. Her primary research interests are focused on transfer learning in NLP for low-resource languages, and in particular Creole languages. Heather’s philosophy for this work is to involve Creole language speakers in her research, as this diverse set of languages proves that there is no “one size fits all” approach to language technology. In the past, Heather has also engaged in research in semantic parsing.


Teresa Lynn is a Research Fellow at the ADAPT Centre in Dublin City University. Teresa's main interests lie in developing tools and resources for Irish language technology. She is the principal investigator on the GaelTech project, funded by the Irish Department of the Gaeltacht, which covers various research topics in Irish language technology. She is also a core member of the European Language Equality project and Ireland's National Anchor Point for the ELRC (European Language Resource Coordination), overseeing national data collection for Irish machine translation. Her research covers treebank development, syntactic parsing, social media NLP and multiword expressions. 


Manuel Mager is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Stuttgart (Institute for Natural Language Processing), Germany. His work is focused on Natural Language Processing for low resource languages, morphological analysis and translation of polysynthetic languages, and code-switching. He is co-organizer of the AmericasNLP workshop and member of the Wixarika community. His main aim is to include indigenous languages of the Americas into the current NLP community and democratize the advancements in the field to all languages of the world.

Perez Ogayo is a master's student at Carnegie Mellon University in the Language Technologies Institute (LTI) where she is focusing on low resource natural language processing. Her interests in NLP are in machine translation, speech synthesis and recognition and NLP for endangered languages. She is a researcher at Masakhane working on Luo and Kiswahili.

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