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Newsletter July 02, 2001
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Your chance to vote for the best chatterbot!

Who is the best chatterbot? That's a good question. Now, you have the chance to find out the answer, and even have your own say in the matter. A new online bot contest has just got underway, with almost 40 chatterbots signed up and ready to talk to you. Organized by Chris Cowart, everyone can participate in the ChatterBox Challenge, by chatting to the different bots and then giving them a mark between 1 and 10. At the end all the marks are put together, and the highest-scoring bot will receive a trophy!

The idea of chatterbot contests has its origins in the Turing Test, devised in the 1950s by British mathematician Alan Turing. He considered that if after five minutes blind conversation with a computer, the judge was unable to tell if he was speaking to a man or a machine, the computer could rightfully be called "intelligent". Since them, many variations of this test have been developed, notably the annual Loebner Prize since 1991.

Of course the winner of the ChatterBox Challenge will not necessarily be as good in conversation as a human being ­ that level of artificial intelligence is still many years off ­ but the contest gives a good overview of the high level of chatterbot activity currently taking place. As Chris Cowart points out, it's a contest "more geared for fun than a scientific project". He feels that official bot contests such as the Loebner Prize are intimidating both for bot creators and for the public, who are totally excluded from the judging process. In the ChatterBox Challenge, everyone can take part, so judging is entirely subjective and messy, but then that's what democracy is all about. May the best bot win!

Discover all the Chatterbots available in Agentland:

ChatterBox Challenge :


> A.I. hits the screens in the States!
Friday June 29th was the big day in the USA, when Stanley Kubrick's vision of artificial intelligence, interpreted by Steven Spielberg, finally came to life on the big screen. Have you seen A.I. yet? How do you rate it? It made Cybelle's hair stand on end! But she's under control again now, and busy with the A.I. game which is approaching its own momentous climax. But this time it is you, not a movie director, who can have the final say in the story.


A G E N T  U P D A T E S

>> Offline Browsers <<

> WebCopier
WebCopier is a powerful tool that copies Web sites and stores them locally. The new version includes several new features such us the "address bar" that that shows URL of a file loaded in the integrated browser. Also it simplifies browser navigation - just type a website URL, press "Enter", and the browser will load that site.
This version doesn't show advertisements and will uninstall advertisement modules installed by previous versions of WebCopier.

>> File sharing <<

> BearShare
BearShare, the file sharing program built on Gnutella technology, has been updated. Several bugs have been fixed, and new features have also been added such as an integrated browser with a simple, easy to use interface. The limit of automatic host connections has been increased and the default sharing settings have been changed for certain connection classes

>> Downloading <<

> FlashGet
FlashGet , the download manager, has been updated. Some bugs have been fixed in this new version 0.96a. The folder selection has also been improved.
FlashGet can split downloaded files into sections, downloading each section simultaneously, for an increase in downloading speed between 100% and 500%.


> EasySeeker
EasySeeker is designed for Internet users who desire to run highly comprehensive searches, but do not want to deal with the frustrations of complex utilities. To perform your search all you have to do is: Open EasySeeker, type in your keyword and press Find Now!


> The WearClam
The WearClam is a wearable keyboard designed to be worn while performing manual tasks such as grasping objects. It is thumb operated and designed for menu-like interfaces, however typing text is possible.

> The multimedia bed
The multimedia bed is a sleeper's paradise. While lying down, you look up at a ceiling that is a large computer screen. Using a wireless mouse — or someday, eye-tracking technology — you run sunset screen savers, check e-mail, surf the Web, or fall asleep listening to music. The bed even senses when you've fallen asleep and turns itself off. It can even detect if you've stopped breathing, setting off a series of alarms.

> BMW: drive or search
Google has a voice-search project with BMW. The car company wants to put voice-activated Web searching into their 7 Series cars. Drivers just speak their search query using microphones in the car, and the system gives the answers back on a display. To visit a selected webpage, just say the result number and the search jumps to that result. For security reasons, the system works only when the car is stopped.

> A Lamprey-Based Undulatory Robot
Biomimetic underwater lampreys have been built by researcher Joseph Ayers at Northeastern University. This bot has all sorts of sensors to detect roll, pitch, inclination, has a compass, and will someday incorporate a sonar. Nitinol wire is used for the artificial muscles. It will perform military underwater operational maneuvers for the Navy.

> Future electronic warfare
Future electronic warfare will be carried out by intelligent software agents rather than computer hackers, according to one CIA intelligence officer.
Lawrence Gershwin, a CIA national intelligence officer, told a US Congress Joint Economic Committee that increasing computer power could change the nature of information warfare in coming years. In particular, it could make programs designed to mimic human intelligence a common weapon of enemies of the state.

> X10: for smart houses
X10 is a communications "language" that allows compatible products to talk to each other via the existing 110V electrical wiring in the home.
With nifty little X10 modules, you can inexpensively control your home appliances over the Web.


> Red-M and Motorola for Bluetooth products
Red-M™, a supplier of advanced Bluetooth™ networking product solutions, has announced a strategic alliance with Motorola, Inc, a leader in the wireless communications industry, to provide customers with complete Bluetooth network products and technology.
Red-M and Motorola will work together on key client accounts to deliver business solutions using Bluetooth wireless technology. Red-M will supply Motorola with its Bluetooth access servers and access points. One implementation of these products will be as a platform for Motorola's seamless mobility solutions.

> Intelligent agents for e-business
SAP, the provider of collaborative e-business solutions, is building intelligent agent technology into its supply chain management (SCM) software to make supply chains more efficient by automating decisions.
Intelligent agent software gathers information which can be used to trigger automatic responses using pre-set rules. SAP claims that it will be able to build "adaptive supply networks" able to sense and respond if demand changes.
"We believe intelligent agents will be the key to resolving the increasing challenges companies are faced with in participating in, and managing, global adaptive supply networks," said SAP board member Claus Heinrich.

> Take a cyber taxi
Hewlett-Packard, CityCab and Ericsson have announced plans to implement a mobile solution called "Project Escalade" and to equip CityCab taxis in Singapore with mobile devices to bring a wireless, interactive experience to passengers and taxi drivers. With the help of mobile e-services, CityCab passengers will be able to surf the Web, send e-mails, check stock prices, catch up on the latest news or even print information such as distance travelled and total fare -- all from the back of a cab using voice activation and wireless technology.
Taxi drivers will be able to use an advanced mobile appliance to access mapping and routing information, accept e-payment options or process booking - allowing drivers to plan and manage their work anytime, anywhere.

> Smarthouse: energy conservation systems
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. and Hitachi, Ltd. have announced a partnership to collaborate in the expansion of home network systems, linking home appliances with social infrastructures. The advanced implementations of energy efficient and ecology-minded measures these systems can bring offer unparalleled opportunities for both greater product benefits and user convenience.
Some areas of cooperation between the companies include R&D related to an ECHONET-based networking concept that aims to help establish a de facto standard for home networking systems; development of networked home energy conservation systems; and other related value-added products and services, including the establishment of a joint-venture company this year.


> Robotics Research Group
Robotics Research Group is a part of the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. The group's research covers topics related to robotics: robot sensor systems, signal processing and artificial neural networks, active vision, etc.

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