Electrical and Computer Engineering

Keeping the internet open with an open-source virtual assistant

October 26, 2017

4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Doherty Hall A302

Monica Lam
Professor of Computer Science
Faculty Director of the Stanford MobiSocial Computing Laboratory
Stanford University


Virtual assistants, such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, are emerging as the super app that intermediates between users and their Iot devices and online services. As an intermediary, the virtual assistant sees all our personal data and has control over the services and vendors we use. A monopolistic virtual assistant would pose a great threat to personal privacy as well as open competition and innovation. This talk describes why the world needs an open-source virtual assistant to keep the internet open and how we’re building it.


Dr. Monica Lam has been a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University since 1988. She is the Faculty Director of the Stanford MobiSocial Computing Laboratory. She has worked in the areas of architecture, compiler optimization, software analysis to improve security, mobile and social computing. Her current research is to develop an open end-user programmable virtual assistant platform. She received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1987. Lam is an ACM Fellow, received an NSF Young Investigator award in 1992, and has won a range of best paper awards from the ACM. She is a co-author of the "dragon book", the most popular textbook in compilers.

Refreshments will be served at 4:30 p.m.

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