Oana Ignat, Towards Language-Vision Models for Positive Societal Impact

When: Monday 2/19 from 1:00 to 2:00 PM
Where: Tyler 055
Abstract: Solving complex real-world problems often requires AI models that can process information from multiple modalities, such as language and vision, which can align with the needs of people from diverse backgrounds. An effective AI model will not only learn how to interact with humans but also do so in a way that reflects the characteristics of those it interacts with, thereby assisting in everyday life activities and significantly improving our quality of life. In this talk, I will specifically address the problem of human action understanding. I will show how we can develop language-vision models that can start to understand the physical and commonsense characteristics of human actions by using multimodal information drawn from what humans say and do in social media videos. Additionally, I will challenge the common belief that achieving a “general understanding” is possible solely by using English data from Western countries, and I will show how current language-vision models lead to considerable performance gaps across demographics. I will highlight insights and actionable steps to address these limitations, such as the development of affordable crowdsourced geo-diverse datasets, or flexible labels that consider the data provider. Finally, I will discuss how AI multimodal models can positively impact society by highlighting cross-disciplinary applications in mental health, machine translation, and education.
Bio: Oana Ignat is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Michigan, where she also completed her Ph.D. in Computer Science in August 2022. Her research interests are at the intersection of language and vision, where she aims to develop equitable models that work equally well across demographics such as income, race, gender, language, or culture. She is passionate about research applications for social good impact, and the use of AI to attract and retain minorities in CS. Oana is also involved in several outreach programs, currently serving as a co-organizer for the ACL Mentorship global panel sessions and an organizer for the Launch your Confidence biweekly workshops.