Artificial intelligence tied to search future

IBM-sponsored conference focuses on paradigms for "The New AI"

AI (Artificial intelligence) has the potential to enhance Internet searches, but obstacles still must be overcome, a speaker stressed at a technical conference Thursday hosted by IBM.

Entitled "The New AI: New Paradigms for Using Computers Workshop," the event at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif. featured a presentation by Oren Etzioni, director of the Turing Center at the University of Washington. Multiple AI and machine learning projects also were highlighted at the event.

Etzioni emphasized more intelligent Internet- searching. "We're going to see in the next five years next-generation search systems based on things like Open IE (Information Extraction)," Etzioni said. Open IE involves techniques for mapping sentences to logical expressions and could apply to arbitrary sentences on the Web, he said.

Etzioni cited work on Softbot intelligent interface technology. But he noted issues, such as a Softbot that might be given the goal of deleting a file but instead deletes an old server log. Using contemporary humor to illustrate another potential problem, he even referred to a Doonesbury cartoon where a search for milk has the Softbot buying luggage along with the milk, against what the searcher desired.

But solutions for enhanced search are emerging, including semantic tractability, in which simple sentences can be understood, and the clarifying of dialogs that could have double meanings, said Etzioni.

Natural language interfaces have been preferred as the way to talk to Softbots, but these must be reliable, he said. Etzioni also cited work on the KnowItAll project, which is about extracting high-quality information from text on the Web. Another effort, TextRunner, pertains to open information extraction and is meant to serve as a foundation for a massive knowledge base.

An organizer of Thursday's event shied away from the term "artificial intelligence."

"[The term] artificial intelligence has fallen out of favor. You're not hearing about expert systems anymore," said Stefan Nusser, senior manager of the IBM User Systems & Experience Research Group. "But right now, there is sort of a re-emergence of some of these methodologies."

The event also showcased several projects in the AI and machine learning spaces. These included:

* Using AI to Identify Interesting Assertions. With this University of Washington project, machine learning is combined with human computation to identify which assertions extracted from the Internet are more interesting. TextRunner is used in this project as well as content creation sites like Wikipedia.

* Data Visualizations and Continuous Interfaces. This Yahoo effort features various applications offering advanced visualizations of data, such as FAA flight paths.

* Examining Obstacles to Software Developer Adoption of Statistical Machine Learning. This University of Washington and Intel project involves studies to provide the basis for development tools to better support software developers applying statistical machine learning within applications. * CueFlik: Interactive Concept Learning in Image Search. Sponsored by the University of Washington and Microsoft, the project provides a Web image search application enabling users to develop rules for re-ranking Web images according to visual characteristics.

* Towards PR2: A Personalized Robot Platform. This Willow Garage effort features a hardware and software platform for robots that do tasks for humans in human environments. In collaboration with Stanford University, an open-source robot operating system is being developed as well.

* A Low Cost Tagging System for Foraging of Web Content. This Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) project features a new tagging system with a "Clik2Tag" technique to provide low-cost tagging of Web content. Users can highlight text snippets and collect tagged or highlighted paragraphs into a system-created notebook that can be browsed and searched.

* WikiDashboard: Social Transparency and Visualization for Wikipedia. Also a PARC effort, the project features an analysis tool intended to improve social transparency and accountability on Wikipedia articles.

* Responsive Mirror: An Intelligent Fitting Room Using Multi-Camera Perception. A PARC project involving a system for retail fitting rooms enabling online social fashion comparisons based on multi-camera perceptions.

* Magitti: Mobile Recommendations for Leisure Activities. This PARC system uses context filtering to narrow down the overload of leisure time offerings in urban areas. The system infers interests and activities for models learned over time based on individual and aggregate user behavior.

* Intelligent E-mail: Reply and Attachment Prediction. A University of Pennsylvania project that involves enhanced e-mail interfaces intended to reduce the stress of email overload.

* Model-driven Content Connectors and Web Intelligence. Consider the Source. An IBM approach for making predictions about relevant content and what should be made accessible in an intelligent navigation system. Unified Modeling Language is leveraged to form connectors between user goals, objects, and content types.

* AALIM: Diagnostic Decision Support for Cardiologists. This is an IBM-developed decision support system to identify similar patient records and aid in diagnostic decision support.

* CoScripter: Programming the Web by Demonstration. An IBM project involving a system for recording, automating, and sharing processes performed in a Web browser. Repetitive activities are automated. It is an extension to the Firefox browser.

* Highlight: Mobilizing Existing Web Sites. This IBM project enables users to create mobile versions of existing Web sites that are customized to their own tasks and devices.

* ShapeWriter: Intelligent Gesture Input. An IBM endeavor involving an advanced mobile text input solution that recognizes a user's intended words through real-time statistical analysis of a user's gesture stroke on the graphical keyboard.

* CALO (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes) Express. This is a Windows-based version of SRI International's CALO project to build an intelligent personal assistant. For example, it can figure out RSS feeds and suggest new feeds for the user.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

InfoWorld Technology of the Year Awards 2023. Now open for entries!