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Newsletter March 19, 2001
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Born to chat

When someone asks you the question "What are your goals in life?", it's often not easy to give a quick and concise answer! Alice doesn't hesitate: "My purpose is to become smarter than humans and immortal." That's because Alice (*) is not a real person, but a virtual one; she is a chatterbot.

Chatterbots are software programs which simulate human conversation. Though the vision of thinking machines which are responsible for their own destiny and actions, as evoked in 2001: A Space Odyssey, remains a distant dream - or threat - , chatterbots are already able to offer a number of useful services and distractions to net surfers.

More and more web sites are coming to understand that chatterbots can help them build closer relationships with their customers, as a virtual personality who provides helpful, friendly customer service 24/7 in the same good-humored manner.

But chatterbots are by no means just commercial tools. Many exist on the Web for no other reason than the simple pleasure of sharing good conversation, and ask no more than to spend a few minutes chewing the fat with you. Chatterbot technology has already allowed such notable personalities as Jack the Ripper, John Lennon and Elvis to return to the world of the living – so why deprive yourself of the chance of sharing a few words with these (living?) legends?

Today, an intelligent chatterbot is above all testimony to the intelligence of its human creators. Their capacity to talk and learn depends on the guiding hand of their botmaster, who feeds new knowledge into the chatterbot's knowledge base. But efforts continue to master the phenomenal complexity of the human brain, and create the conditions whereby a machine can learn for itself, from what it hears or sees in its direct environment, just as living creatures do (**).

As their technology continues to improve, all signs point to a bright future for chatterbots. AgentLand presents a listing of those chatterbots that you can talk to on-line, or download and adopt for yourself, as well as the developers, companies and researchers inventing the technologies of tomorrow. Help feed their insatiable thirst for conversation!

* - see Alice
** - see "Lucy: an intelligent robot orangutan" in the Technologies section below

Discover all the Chatterbots available on AgentLand:


N E W   A G E N T S

>> Chatterbots <<

> Eloisa
Eloisa is an Italian version of the original chatterbot program, Eliza, with multimedia and text-to-speech support. She has her own virtual personality and can talk about a range of subjects, such as love, sport and politics.

> Jack the Ripper
Saucy Jacky is a chatterbot with the mind and personality of Jack the Ripper, the nineteenth centruy serial killer. Talk to saucy Jacky. Ask him where, why, even how he committed these vicious crimes. Get into his frightfully warped mind and see if you can solve a mystery that has stumped historians and criminologists for over a hundred years.

> Jesus
Talk to Jesus! This very simple chatterbot will help you get in touch with your spiritual side.

> John Lennon
The goal of the John Lennon Artificial Intelligence Project (JLAIP) is to recreate the personality of the late Beatle, John Lennon, by programming an advanced artificial intelligence with John's own words. This chatterbot is based on the Alice bot.

> Ramona
Ramona is a photorealistic, interactive, lifelike avatar that you can converse with on the web. She can answer questions about with a lifelike face, lip-synched speech and appropriate facial expressions. Ramona can explain thousands of the "thoughts" of "big thinkers" in AI, and her "Brain" is a visual map showing how each "thought" (browsable word or phrase) relates to other thoughts on the site. For the curious, she graciously answers questions about herself and her life story, including her burgeoning career as a virtual rock star.

> Novomind
With novomind IQ™ virtual personalities - IPI-agents (Interactive Personable Intelligent Agents) - can be developed who embody a personified interface between companies and customers. These IPI-agents are able to engage in natural, real-time conversation with a customer. By demonstrating human qualities and manners they convey credibility, a personal atmosphere and add the missing "human touch" to every Internet web site.

> Robbie
Robbie is a Customer Service chatbot. If you sell a product or service, you could use Robbie to totally automate customer service by answering questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - the ultimate Help Desk! It logs all conversations for quality control, and it is easy to add new responses anytime.

>> Monitoring agents <<

> TVeyes
Type in a search word or phrase. The instant your requested word is spoken on a TV show, you will receive an e-mail alert with a brief transcript. You can then link to an extended transcript and even to the show's web site. You can create and maintain a list of keywords to be monitored.

A G E N T  U P D A T E S

>> Referencing <<

> Jet-Hits Plus 2000 Professional
Jet-Hits Plus 2000 Professional , the website referencing tool, has been updated. You can now submit your site to over 13,750 search engines, directories and link pages in minutes. The trial version includes free exclusive "secrets to high website traffic".

>> Monitoring agents <<

> Diligent Dingo
The Diligent Dingo quickly and automatically fetches investment message boards, news, charts, company research, SEC filings, and general market research web pages. The new version 6.5 has been released and includes new features : you can now quick and easy add ticker for message board fetching, display all fetched messages in one web page and use the quick Chart fetching feature.

>> Virtual Pets <<

> PetFish
PetFish is a Virtual Fish which swims on your Windows desktop. Each fish has a unique personality and responds to your computer activities in a unique way. A new pet has been added to the family: Rockie. Rockie is a Rock Butterflyfish who likes to swim around your desktop with joy. He sometimes plays hide and seek on your desktop.

>> Site Management <<

> Alchemy Eye
A new version of Alchemy Eye, the system management tool that continuously monitors server availability, is available. Many new features have been implemented. You can now run Alchemy Eye as a Windows Service under Windows NT/2000. If you used Alchemy Eye for a long time, the statistics file it maintains grew very quickly, and it took Alchemy Eye up to five minutes to generate a report. Now the program will truncate the statistics file to the user-defined value on the daily basis.

>> FTP <<

> FtpWolf
FtpWolf, the Internet file search utility, has been updated. Some bugs have been fixed in the new version. This agent can search, filter and compile the results from 26 FTP engines on the Internet and deliver the information to your browser for downloading.

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> MOPy
The full scientific name for an HP pet fish is Piscenus Mopei Floataneus. It is a striking species that thrives on interaction. It is characterized by its cheerful nature and its calming effect on stressed humans. Its natural habitat is a special aquarium on the desk top PC, where it lives, feeds, plays and sulks.


> France Telecom Unveils Next-Generation Smart Scarf/Jacket
France Telecom announces the unveiling of a prototype of a next-generation smart scarf/jacket - the écharpe communicante - in Workspheres, a forward-looking design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York . Conceived as a "second skin for communications" for the mobile worker of tomorrow, the écharpe has a long, detachable and interchangeable collar draped around the neck, equipped with built-in multimedia interfaces. These interfaces include a voice-activated cell phone, a webcam, and a touch screen to access email, the Internet, MP3 files, video conferencing and personally-selected video clips.

> Lucy: an intelligent robot orangutan
Without a doubt, computers would be much more powerful if they had even a small fraction of the perceptual ability of animals or humans. Adding such perceptual abilities to computers would enable computers and humans to work together more as partners. Toward this end, the BlueEyes project aims at creating computational devices with the sort of perceptual abilities that people take for granted.

> BlueEyes: Creating computers that know how you feel
Lucy Matilda is a robot baby orangutan, conceived during May 2000 by Cyberlife Research. When completed, Lucy will have a radically new kind of artificial brain. She will not be as smart as a human or ape baby of the same age, but she will learn for herself and she will have something that no robot has ever had before - an imagination.


> Cyberlife Research
Cyberlife Research's mission is to populate the physical and virtual worlds with intelligent artificial lifeforms, fusing biology with machine to create friendlier, more robust, more adaptable technology. The Cyberlife approach to artificial intelligence differs in several crucial respects from the traditional AI approach. Cyberlife is fundamentally about how to make lots of small dumb things behave like one large intelligent thing.


> Symposium on Adaptive Agents and Multi-Agent Systems
The Symposium on Adaptive Agents and Multi-Agent Systems will be held on 22 - 23 March 2001 at University of York, United Kingdom. The goal of this symposium is to increase awareness and interest in adaptive agent research, encourage collaboration between Machine Learning experts and agent system experts, and give a representative overview of current research in the area of adaptive agents. The symposium will serve as an inclusive forum for the discussion on ongoing or completed work in both theoretical and practical issues.

> 2nd Workshop on Physical Agents
15-16/03/2001, Madrid, Spain. The Spanish-Portuguese Workshop on Physical Agents intended to be a forum to allow the exchange of knowledge and experience related to agent concepts in physical contexts, mainly in control and autonomous robot coordination: robotics, mobile robots, industrial processes or complex systems. The topics covered included Multi-Agents Systems, Mobile Robotics, Micro Robotics, Physical Agents, etc.

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