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Meet the Intel techie who helped late Stephen Hawking speak

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Scott-Morgan began his transformation late last year when he underwent a series of operations to extend his life using technology.

An Intel veteran who helped late physicist Stephen Hawking to speak is now working with Peter Scott-Morgan, a British roboticist who has undergone several operations to head off the incapacity that comes from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease (MND), the same affliction as Hawking suffered.

Lama Nachman, Intel fellow and director of Intel’s Anticipatory Computing Lab, and her team that includes Indian-origin scientists developed the Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit, a software that helps people with severe disabilities communicate through keyboard simulation, word prediction and speech synthesis.

Nachman’s team works on context-aware computing and human artificial intelligence (AI) collaboration technologies that can help elderly in their homes, students who might not thrive in standard classrooms and technicians in manufacturing facilities.

“I’ve always felt that technology can empower people who are most marginalized. It can level the playing field and bring more equity into society, and that is most obvious for people with disabilities,” Nachman said in an Intel blog post.

In 2017, Scott-Morgan received a diagnosis of MND or ALS that attacks one’s brain and nerves and eventually paralyses all muscles, even those that enable breathing and swallowing. Doctors told the 62-year-old scientist he’d probably die by the end of 2019 but Scott-Morgan had other plans. He wants to replace all his organs with machinery to become the ”world’s first full cyborg”.

Scott-Morgan began his transformation late last year when he underwent a series of operations to extend his life using technology. He now relies on synthetic speech and has developed a lifelike avatar of his face for more effective communication with others.

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