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Newsletter May 21, 2001
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Artificial intelligence : friend or foe?

Who doesn't remember HAL, the intelligent computer in "2001: A Space Odyssey"? This artificial intelligence, reputed at the beginning of the movie to be infallible, lost its mind and became a very real threat to the life of the ship's crew.

The movie industry is not alone in wanting to create artificial life and to give it a form of intelligence. For a long time now, researchers have been trying to reproduce human intelligence. This has led to anthropomorphic robots with a head, arms and legs, like Honda's ASIMO (1), capable of moving around while avoiding obstacles.

In Japan, the Starbrain(2) project at the ATR laboratory in Kyoto aims at building an artificial brain which will control the movements of a robot cat, ROBOKONEKO (2). The brain will contain 1 billion artificial neurones lodged in a computer, and the little cat will be able to see, hear and touch objects. Its movements (walking, playing with a ball etc) will be controlled at distance by the artificial brain. They will be developed without being programmed by a human operator.

Similarly, another project of creating an artificial brain is entitled LUCY (3). Lucy is a baby robot orang-utan, conceived in May 2001 by Cyberlife Research. When she is finished, Lucy will have a radically different type of artificial brain. She will not have the intelligence of a human being or an orang-utan of the same age, but she will be able to learn by herself, and, unusually for a robot, she will have her own imagination.

Many researchers have made public their concerns about the future development of artificial intelligence. Hugo de Garis, leader of the Robokoneko project, has said that he considers the total absence of regulation in the field to be extremely dangerous: "The big question is whether we are in the process of creating gods or potential exterminators".

(1) ASIMO:
(2) Starbrain:
(3) Lucy :

Get to know the intelligent robots available on AgentLand

A-I Movie news

> In the labyrinth of Steven Spielberg's imagination
As the release of Spielberg's "A.I." approaches, the clues are coming thick and fast in the A.I. game on the Web. Cybelle has been working hard on her investigation into this near future, where artificial intelligence has become part of everyday life. Among the latest news is the escape of Venus, the sexbot wanted in connection with the murder of Evan Chan, from the hands of the Sentient Property Crime Bureau (SPCB), and the death of among Sentient Home designed by Martin Swinton. Learn about the movie and the game, follow Cybelle's investigation and get all the links to the trailers and game sites at:


N E W   A G E N T S

>> Chatterbots <<

> MyLittleTony
MyLittleTony is a chatterbot character for Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister. As well as discussing politics with him, you can teach him new things and see transcripts of the best recent conversations. It is based on Kiwilogic's Lingubot technology.

>> Shopbots <<

> NexTag
NexTag is an online marketplace that gives individuals and companies the opportunity to buy and sell new, previously owned or refurbished goods, at the lowest price. Buyers can choose from name brand retailers, small stores, or individual sellers and between new or used versions of the same item. They can instantly compare prices for and buy at fixed prices that include tax & shipping.

>> Monitoring Agents <<

> Digimind Monitor
Digimind Monitor is an automated service for monitoring web pages. Users are alerted by e-mail, Intranet or Intranet as soon as a monitored page is modified. Users can configure the monitoring system using 7 rules of modification. The service allows you to receive monthly statistics of modifications and to archive all the page versions.

>> Job <<

> Arbajob
Arbajob is a search agent dedicated to employment. You can search by job title, company name and location. It queries multiple dedicated job search web sites. The results can be sorted by date, company, job title, etc.
Arbajob is available for Belgium, France, the Netherlands. It will be soon available for the United Kingdom.

A G E N T  U P D A T E S

>> Personal Assistants <<

> CyberBuddy
CyberBuddy, the utility program that makes use of MicroSoft Agents, has been updated.
Now, you can chat with Multiple CyberBuddies at the same time. A new feature has been implemented: the "Synchronize" function. It allows you to join a chat already in progress with another CyberBuddy. File Transfer Function now added. Exchange files with other CyberBuddies.

>> Games <<

> TheSims
TheSims, the artificial life game that allow you create and control people, will launch TheSimsOnline. Take your Sims to an online world where you get to be yourself or whoever you want to be. Be a peacemaker or pest, a recluse or rabble-rouser. In this open-ended, online world, you choose your role, your attitude and your destiny. TheSimsOnline will be available in 2002.

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> Zapper
Zapper offers an efficient way to get the information you need from the Web. It takes you from wherever you are on your desktop to exactly what you're looking for on the Web - in just one click of your mouse!


> CHeF
CHeF (Collaborative Home e-Fridge) is an intelligent fridge. It connects itself to Internet to buy foods, identify and localize the items, gives personalized response. Tell the fridge what do you want to eat and it will gives you a menu suggestion. It was developed in the Computer Human Interaction Center (CHIC!) who specializes in the research, design, development, and evaluation of new styles of user interfaces to complex systems. CHeF uses speech recognition, natural language processing and handwriting recognition technologies.

> SPARTA project
The objective of the SPARTA project (Security Policy Adaptation Reinforced Through Agents) is the creation, development, provision, composition and management of innovative and intelligent security modules across heterogeneous platforms and networks. The intelligent agent modules are focused on maintaining the level of IT elements security high, while at the same time providing a decision support information to the security managers. The second objective is to define a methodology to elaborate efficient security policy in order to support such advanced functionality as intelligent agent based tools.

> Sprint-Labs
Sprintplans to make robots that allow telecommuters to have a physical presence in the office. "We want to put more reality into the virtual world," Sprint says. The robot - wireless videoconferencing units on wheels - will not sit at the sides of their teleworker partners, but rather represent them back at the office; robotic surrogates. Should the human half need to chat with the boss or a cubicle-bound co-worker, he will eschew the stifling options of telephone and e-mail in favor of asking his droid to wheel over to the target. A real-time video chat ensues.
You'll have to wait a few years for Sprint to bring them to market.

> Audiosurf project
Sinequa's Audiosurf project consists in indexing Radio France broadcasts in real time and making them accessible through a natural language search system for Internet users.
This is the first time a computer program indexes radio broadcasts in French without human intervention. For the speech recognition, Sinequa has joined up with LIMSI, a specialist laboratory in speech processing.

> Starbrain project
The aim of the Starbrain project is to build an artificial brain, which will control the behavior of a life-sized robotic cat. The brain will contain around 75 million artificial neurons, which live in a specially built, highly parallel computer. The kitten will be able to see, hear, and feel. Its behaviors (walking, playing with a ball etc.) will be remotely controlled by the artificial brain via a radio link. All of these behaviors will be evolved, rather than pre-programmed by a human operator.

> Peer-to-peer technology for Ford Motor
Ford has signed a deal with Oculus Technologies, a Boston-based startup, to use that company's peer-to-peer technology as a way to produce more fuel-efficient cars.
The Ford team will utilize Oculus CO to seamlessly connect geographically dispersed design team members working with different software applications, on disparate operating systems. This will allow Ford engineers to evaluate many more design iterations in a much shorter period of time.

> Emotions detected by Computers
A computer, developed by scientists in Japan, can detect signs of a range of emotional states in the voices of users, including anger, fear and disgust.
To construct their emotionally sensitive computer, Dr John Nicholson and colleagues at ATR Research Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, trained a neural network using 100 different speakers, who spoke to the computer using a large list of words with emotions ranging from surprise and joy to sadness and disgust.
In each case, the computer was told which emotion to associate with what it was hearing through its microphone. As training progressed, the computer became progressively better at linking emotion to the sound of the human voice. By the end of the training, the computer was able to sense the correct emotion about 50 per cent of the time, no matter who was speaking to it.

> A Robot capable of telling the white from the black
An intelligent robot capable of accurately telling the white from the black has been developed in this capital of northeast China's Helongjiang Province. According to researchers, the receiver in the "brain" of the robot can recognize the black or white color in light of the intensity of signals reflected. The signal is changed to digits by the micro- computer installed in the robot's body and the walking device is controlled through integrated circuits.
Dr. Bao Qingshan with Harbin Poly-technical University, said that the new robot enjoys a great development potential. He and his colleagues plan to take it as a research platform to develop intelligent toys for children.


> PowerTicker
Galleon Software, the original developers of MacTicker™, finalized the purchase of PowerTicker from Aladdin Systems. Galleon will continue on-going development and support of PowerTicker. PowerTicker is an agent that gathers information from leading financial Web sites around the world to constantly update your market information

> Project Pandango Inc.
Project Pandango Inc. is a company formed by the i5 Digital LLC intellectual property development company to launch a search engine based upon their Pandango (taken from the Latin word "Pando," meaning to extend) Peer-To-Peer Web search technology. The XML-based Pandango mixes Peer-To-Peer technology with a distributed version of collaborative filtering (a technology used by the Google engine).


> Artificial Intelligence International Conference
The Fourteenth International Conference on Industrial & Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence & Expert Systems IEA/AIE-2001 will be held in June 4-7, 2001 at Budapest, Hungary.
The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum where international researchers and practitioners in Artificial Intelligence can present their work, exchange scientific ideas and results and explore possibilities for collaboration. Topics of interest include: autonomous agents, intelligent interfaces, intelligent databases, intelligent networks, robotics, speech recognition, etc.

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