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Coping with Information Overload

Allen Gorin

Dr. Gorin is based at Fort Meade, MD.
Coping with information overload is a major challenge of the 21st century. In previous eras, access to information was difficult and often tightly controlled as a source of power. Today, we are overloaded with so much electronic information that it has become an obstacle to effective decision making. Thus, the challenge facing individuals and institutions is how to embrace this information rather than being paralyzed by it. The intelligence community is overloaded with huge volumes of information, moving at large velocities and comprising great variety. Information includes both content and context, which humans deal with as a gestalt but computer systems tend to treat separately. We discuss two complementary approaches to coping with information overload and the open research questions that arise in this emerging discipline. First is value estimation, where humans examine only the golden nuggets of information judged valuable by some process. The second approach is knowledge distillation, where the information is digested and compressed, producing salient knowledge for human consumption. Finally, there are many open questions regarding the symbiosis between people and machines for knowledge discovery.
Allen Gorin is Director of the Human Language Technology Research Lab in the U.S. Department of Defense, which focuses on creating new technologies for coping with information overload. Before that, he was at AT&T Labs, leading the research team that created AT&T's "how May I Help You?" (HMIHY) ™ natural language voice service. HMIHY was deployed nationally in 2001 for long distance customer care and more recently for other business services. He was awarded the 2002 AT&T Science and Technology Medal for his research contributions to spoken language understanding for HMIHY. He has published 97 papers, been granted 14 U.S. Patents, and has an additional 12 filed. He received the B.S. and M.A. degrees in Mathematics from SUNY at Stony Brook, and the Ph.D. in Mathematics from the CUNY Graduate Center in 1980. He joined AT&T Bell Labs and led the DARPA ASPEN project, developing parallel architectures and algorithms for pattern recognition. In 1987, he was appointed a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff, then joined the Speech Research Department at Bell Labs in 1988. He has served as a guest editor for the IEEE Transactions on Speech and Audio, and was a visiting researcher at the ATR Laboratory in Japan in 1994 and at MIT in 2002.

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Martin Strauss