Meet Andreas Stolcke, Distinguished AI Scientist

Meet Andreas Stolcke, Distinguished AI Scientist

It’s no secret that Uniphore has a knack for attracting the best and brightest minds in the tech industry. In fact, our talent-nurturing workplace recently earned us the highly coveted Great Place To Work® Certification™ in both the U.S. and in India. As an AI innovator with a global footprint, we draw our strength—and talent—from across the world, tapping the sharpest skills from the most diverse backgrounds imaginable. Our newest AI leader, distinguished AI scientist Andreas Stolcke, is a prime example of that international pursuit of excellence.

Photo of Andreas StolckeBorn in Germany, Andreas spent most of his teenage years in Brazil, before returning to his home country to obtain an undergraduate degree. He then moved to the United States, where he earned his PhD in Artificial Intelligence / Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley. This transcontinental journey not only made him fluent in German, Portuguese and English, but it also fueled his fascination with linguistics and language technology. His doctoral thesis, “Bayesian Learning of Probabilistic Language Models“, developed an early approach to the learning problem for probabilistic language models and presented a kind of statistical parser that operates left-to-right, making it suitable for applications such as speech recognition.

With his background in language-oriented AI and machine learning, he joined the renowned nonprofit research institute SRI International immediately after graduate school. Based in Silicon Valley, SRI International performs contract research for both commercial and government clients, such as DARPA, NASA and the Department of Defense. During his 16 years with SRI, Andreas collaborated on technological concepts that would later change the world.

“It’s a unique privilege to work on these types of projects because you get to work on the next generation of technologies,” he said on a recent Zoom call. “A lot of the speech and language technology that has now finally made its way into industry and products was already conceived 20 years ago in these types of government-funded projects.”

Andreas Stolcke and Roberto Pieraccini architecting the next generation in AI.
Andreas Stolcke and Roberto Pieraccini architecting the next generation in AI.

He gives Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, as an example. “Siri came as a spin-off,” he explains. “SRI spun off Siri from one of these DARPA projects before it was acquired by Apple. Most people don’t know that.”

While at SRI, Andreas and his colleagues also explored how paralinguistic information, such as a speaker’s regional accent or expressions of emotion, could transform language technology. “With DARPA, we built a machine learning model that could detect whether the user of a dialogue system was getting annoyed or frustrated,” he shared. “This is a capability that has now found its way into products [like Uniphore’s].”

After SRI, he joined Microsoft in 2011, where he worked as a Principal Researcher in the company’s speech group. There, he collaborated on projects from conversation transcription using mobile device microphones to pushing conversational speech recognition to human-level parity.

After working in the research sector for more than 25 years, Andreas joined Amazon in 2019. “At Amazon, everything is product driven; it’s customer focused,” he said. “You work backwards from some need that the customer has, and you develop the technology to enable that.” As Senior Principal Scientist, he was charged with ideating, coordinating and developing new, customer-centric algorithms, use cases and speech-enabled applications for the benefit of Alexa users, including making the technology work well for diverse groups of speakers.

After four years of helping to innovate speech recognition and understanding in Amazon’s Alexa, Andreas joined Uniphore in November 2023. It was a perfect fit. Uniphore’s mission of solving enterprise challenges using human-first AI aligned seamlessly with his own vision for leveraging language technology to elevate conversational situational awareness. If AI could better detect nuances in speech, such as frustration and implied urgency, it could create more fulfilling and efficient interactions with fewer friction points.

“This kind of situational awareness that humans exhibit—if computer systems could do that, if AI could do that—that would be the nirvana of human-computer interaction,” he explained. “It’s still a north star that we haven’t quite reached yet, but I think Uniphore is in an excellent position to get us closer to that.”

Andreas Stolcke, Distinguished AI Scientist, Uniphore

While working in the industry, Andreas has also participated actively in the scientific community and professional associations and has collaborated closely with academic groups. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, the International Speech Communication Association, and the Asia-Pacific Artificial Intelligence Association, and has served as an IEEE Distinguished Industry Speaker for the past two years.

We are incredibly excited for the experience, skill and strategy Andreas brings to the Uniphore team. As we continue to explore AI’s potential and push its enterprise capabilities, his scientific leadership will help us usher in the next generation of interaction technology and push us to the forefront of AI development.

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