I am an Assistant Professor in the department of Computer Science at Information Technology University, Punjab, Pakistan. I am a Fulbright Scholar. I have done my PhD in Computer Science / Language Technologies from Language Technologies Institute, School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where I was advised by Roni Rosenfeld. I also head the Center for Speech and Language Technologies (CSaLT) at ITU.
My research interests include Speech and Language Technologies (Computational Linguistics, Speech and Natural Language Processing) with a special focus on Speech and Language Technologies for Development (SLT4D); Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) and Human Computer Interfaces for Development (HCI4D)
My current research focuses on the use of Speech and Language Technologies to aid socio-economic development all around the world by enabling dissemination of speech-based, development-related information and communication services to low-literate telephone users; without the benefit of explicit user training. My work shows that speech-based simple entertainment services can be used as powerful motivators to induce self-training and viral spread among low-literate masses. Such services can further be used as vehicles for delivering core development services and as experimental test-beds for performing randomized controlled trials and demographic studies.
My doctoral thesis: Polly employs voice-based viral entertainment to familiarize low-literate and non-tech savvy people to telephone-based speech interfaces. Polly acts as a viral conduit for disseminating telephone and speech based development-related services to masses and to implicitly train the general population in the use of such services. In 2012 the use of Polly spread virally in Pakistan from five initial users to 165,000 users who participated in 636,000 calls, over a year. At its peak it was spreading at the rate of 1,000 new users every day. It also attracted 34,000 of its users to Polly-Jobs, a job-audio-browser.
In June 2015, I took up a faculty position at Information Technology University, Lahore, Pakistan and established the Center for Speech and Language Technologies.