Elektronisk Dansk A. I. Meddelser 109 Maj 08

Elektronisk Dansk A.I.Meddelser 109 Maj 08

Dette nummer af EDAIM er foreloebigt sendte til den voksende antal DAIS medlemmer jeg har email adresse paa. Fortsat er der meget faa rettelser til medlemslisten fra jer .

Medlem-email-adresser er meget velkomne.

Medlems bidrag til EDAIM er meget velkommen.


1) Tenth Scandinavian Conference on AI !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


3) AAAI-08 Robot Exhibition & Workshop

4) AI Communications

5) AI-2008 Cambridge, UK, December 2008

6) AIMSA 2008

7) ANTS 2008

8) Book chapter

9) Book chapters

10) chapters

11) Compulog/ALP Summer School

12) Constraints and Language Processing


15) CHAOS2008

16) DASIP 2008

17) Dissertation Prize: 2008



20) EMO track in GECCO'2008

21) ESM2008, October 26-28, 2008, Universite du Havre

22) EUROSIS Conferences Update 2008-2010

23) EASSS'08 - European Agent Systems Summer School

24) Games Lecturer Positions available

27) GeneXproTools 4.0 R2

28) HIS 2008

29) ISDA 2008

30) IWLCS2008

32) ICNC'08-FSKD'08: Jinan, China

33) ICLP'08

34) 2008 IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium

37) IMCSIT 2008

38) ISASTYLE="Transactions journals

39) Modal Logic

40) Math and CS Faculty Positions

41) PPDP'08

42) optimization workshop

43) WFLP'08

44) AI-2008 Cambridge, UK, December 2008

45) AIIDE-08

46) Nature-Inspired Algorithms for Optimisation

47) CGIV08

48) CIA 2008 - Cooperative Information Agents

49) GAMEON-NA'2008

50) ISC'2008, June 9-11, 2008, Universite de Lyon I

51) ICGT'08 Doctoral Symposium

52) ISoLA 2008

53) ICHS08 beijing !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

54) EMODA 2008

55) Matheuristics 2008

56) META'08

57) NCA 2008


59) STAIRS 2008

60) AISB

1) Tenth Scandinavian Conference on AI !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Apologies to you who receive multiple copies of this,

but please forward to anyone who might be interested.



* *

* Call for Participation *

* *

* S C A I 2 0 0 8 *

* The Tenth Scandinavian Conference on Artificial Intelligence *

* *

* May 26-28, 2008 *

* IVA (Ingenjörsvetenskapsakademin), Stockholm City, Sweden. *

* http://www.sics.se/scai2008 *

* *


The tenth Scandinavian AI conference, SCAI 2008, will be held in

Stockholm, Sweden, on May 26-28, 2008. The conference is co-organised

by SICS, Swedish Institute of Computer Science and SAIS, the Swedish

Artificial Intelligence Society.

The conference covers subjects from Machine Learning, Knowledge

Representation, Robotics, Planning and Scheduling, Natural Language,

Computer Vision, Search Algorithms, Industrial Applications,

Philosophical Foundations, and much more.

SCAI 2008 will open on Monday May 26 with an afternoon dedicated

to celebration: SAIS, the Swedish Artificial Intelligence Society,

will celebrate its 25th anniversary. At the same time, the Nordic

cooperation in SCAI has been carried on successfully for almost as

long, 20 years!

Take this opportunity to meet both researchers and companies involved

in the frontiers of AI in Scandinavia and its neighbours!

Important dates

April 20, 2008: Early registration deadline

May 26-28, 2008: Conference

Invited Speakers

Kathleen McCormick, USA, on "The Many Faces of Biosurveillance".

Agnar Aamodt, Norway, on "Case-Based Reasoning for Advice-Giving

in Data-Intensive Environments".

Manfred Jaeger, Denmark, on "Probabilistic Modeling and Learning in

a Relational World".

Erik Sandewall, Sweden, on "Artificial Intelligence - Past,

Present and Future".

Carl-Gustaf Jansson, Sweden, on "Impressions from Swedish AI through

the years"

Patrick Doherty, Sweden, on "Integrating AI and Unmanned Aerial

Vehicle Technologies"

Preliminary Program

Monday May 26, 2008

12.00 Registration

13.00 Erik Sandevall: Artificial Intelligence - past, present and future

13.45 Patrik Doherty: Integrating AI and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technologies - A tsunami based emergency services scenario and the use of AI technologies

14.30 Coffee break with SAIS 25 years Anniversary celebration

15.00 Industrial aspects

15.45 Short brake

16.00 Carl-Gustaf Jansson: Impressions from Swedish AI through the year

16.30 Panel discussion: Where is AI going?

18.00 Dinner at IVA

Tuesday May 27, 2008

8.30 Registration

9.00 Opening talk

9.15 Invited talk: Kathleen McCormick, USA, "The Many Faces of Biosurveillance"

10.15 Coffee

10.30 Technical session 1

12.00 Lunch

13.00 Technical session 2

14.30 Coffee

15.00 Invited talk: Manfred Jaeger, Denmark: "Probabilistic Modeling and Learning in a Relational World"

15.45 Brief poster presentations

16.45 Poster session with refreshments

17.15 (SAIS annual meeting)

19.00 Conference banquet

Wednesday May 28, 2008

9.00 Invited talk: Agnar Aamodt, Norway, "Case-based reasoning for advice-giving in data-intensive environments"

9.45 Coffee

10.15 Technical session 3

12.00 Lunch

13.00 The SAIS Master Thesis Award and presentation

13.25 Technical session 4

14.30 Coffee

15.00 Technical session 5

16.10 Closing

Organising Committee

Anders Holst (Chair) SICS

Peter Funk Mälardalen University

Kersti Hedman SICS

Per Kreuger SICS

Lars Mollberg Ericsson

Vivian Vimarlund Linköping University


Web: http://www.sics.se/scai2008

Email: scai2008@sics.se


AAAI AI ALERT         13 March 2008

Welcome to the AI ALERT, a service from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, showcasing an eclectic subset from the AI in the news collection in AI TOPICS, the AAAI sponsored pathfinder Web site. As explained in our notices & disclaimers, the AI ALERT is intended to keep you informed of news articles published by third parties. The mere fact that a particular item is selected for inclusion does NOT imply that AAAI or AI TOPICS has verified the information (articles are offered "as is") or that there is endorsement of any kind. And because the excerpt may not reflect the overall tenor of the article, nor contain all of the relevant information, you are encouraged to access the entire article.

This issue of the AI ALERT has been posted online at:


  • Automated killer robots 'threat to humanity': expert - Agence France-Presse [+ related articles]

  • Robot as good as real dog at easing lonely hours  - Reuters [+ related articles & video]

  • 'Scolding' software to speed planet hunt - New Scientist

  • Translation camera phone (video) - BBC News

  • Plan to teach baby robot to talk - BBC News [plus link]

  • Humans Are Just Machines for Propagating Memes - Wired News

  • This Psychologist Might Outsmart the Math Brains Competing for the Netflix Prize - Wired

  • NZ's Massive Software exhibits in German - Gameplanet News [plus article & video]

  • A Virtual Travel Agent With All the Answers - The New York Times

  • Party like it's 1969 - The Sydney Morning Herald

  • World-wise web? - Financial Times

  • Supersmart machines have some sort of future - Commercial Appeal [+ video]

  • New Science Ministry Will Focus on Fundamental Study - The Korea Times

  • SENIOR project initiates ethical debate on ICT for the elderly - CORDIS News [+ link]

  • Mind-reading with a brain scan - Nature News [+ articles & podcast & video]

  • Research company gets keys to library (with an embedded video clip featuring Kenneth M. Ford, director of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition) - The Ocala Star-Banner [+ editorial]

  • 3-D Modeling Advance - Technology Review News [+ videos]

  • IT pioneer Joseph Weizenbaum dies - EE Times [+ 2 more obituaries]

  • Virtual child passes mental milestone - news [+ related articles & videos]

  • Embedded systems get smarter, tougher - ICT Results

  • Bank transactions put focus on Spitzer - Los Angeles Times [+ podcasts & blogs]

  • With New Program, The Writing's On The Web -

  • Awards in the news

  • From the Deck of the AI News Clipper: The new AI in the news page


February 27, 2008: Automated killer robots 'threat to humanity': expert. By Marlowe Hood. Agence France-Presse (AFP) via Yahoo! News. "Increasingly autonomous, gun-totting robots developed for warfare could easily fall into the hands of terrorists and may one day unleash a robot arms race, a top expert on artificial intelligence told AFP. 'They pose a threat to humanity,' said University of Sheffield professor Noel Sharkey ahead of a keynote address Wednesday before Britain's Royal United Services Institute. ... Several countries, led by the United States, have already invested heavily in robot warriors developed for use on the battlefield. South Korea and Israel both deploy armed robot border guards, while China, India, Russia and Britain have all increased the use of military robots. Washington plans to spend four billion dollars by 2010 on unmanned technology systems, with total spending expected rise to 24 billion, according to the Department of Defense's Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2007-2032, released in December. ... But even more worrisome, he continued, is the subtle progression from the semi-autonomous military robots deployed today to fully independent killing machines. 'I have worked in artificial intelligence for decades, and the idea of a robot making decisions about human termination terrifies me,' Sharkey said. Ronald Arkin of Georgia Institute of Technology, who has worked closely with the US military on robotics, agrees that the shift towards autonomy will be gradual. But he is not convinced that robots don't have a place on the front line."

  • Also see:

    • Robotics Prof Sees Threat in Military Robots - But are the dangers as overplayed as the Pentagon's dreams of robot battalions? By JR Minkel. Scientific American News (February 28, 2008). " Congress in 2001 mandated that one third of military ground vehicles must be unmanned by 2015. According to the DoD report, 'Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2007-2032,' the Pentagon plans to spend $4 billion by 2010 on unmanned systems technology, with an eye toward increasing autonomy to free up troops that would otherwise have to monitor the robots closely. An autonomous Chevy Tahoe successfully navigated a 60-mile (96-kilometer) urban setting this past November in four hours to win the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's 2007 Urban Challenge. 'It is quite realistic,' [Professor Noel] Sharkey says, 'to have autonomous vehicles that are not monitored -- to take supplies and navigate from place to place.' Giving them license to kill would be another matter. Despite decades of research in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), computers remain unable to make simple visual discriminations such as picking a cow out of a barnyard scene. Robotic systems would be hard-pressed to tell friend from foe even in ideal conditions, let alone amid the smoke and confusion of battle, Sharkey says. Mindful of these limitations, Sharkey, who moonlights as a judge in televised robot contests such as BBC Two's Robot Wars series, proposes a global ban on autonomous weapons until they can comply with international rules of war prohibiting the use of force against noncombatants."

    • Experts warn of robotic terrorism. The Associated Press via CTV.ca (February 28, 2008). "Military experts have warned that terrorists could use unmanned drones in aerial attacks, saying robotics offered a frighteningly easy way to evade security. The know-how and materials for manufacturing lethal, improvised robots are easily available, according to experts at a conference Wednesday on robotics at the Royal United Services Institute, a 177-year-old forum on military affairs. 'Sooner or later we're going to see a Cessna programmed to fly into a building,' said Rear Adm. Chris Parry, who formed the Ministry of Defense's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Center in 2005. ... Unmanned vehicles, from hunter-killer planes like the U.S. Predator to explosives-disposal buggies, are also playing an increasingly important role in the U.S. war effort in Iraq and elsewhere."

    • 'Robot arms race' underway, expert warns. By Tom Simonite. news (February 27, 2008). "Governments around the world are rushing to develop military robots capable of killing autonomously without considering the legal and moral implications, warns a leading roboticist. But another robotics expert argues that robotic soldiers could perhaps be made more ethical than human ones. Noel Sharkey of Sheffield University, UK, says he became 'really scared' after researching plans outlined by the US and other nations to roboticise their military forces. He will outline his concerns to at a one day conference held in London, UK, on Wednesday. ... As governments seem determined to invest in robotic weapons, [Ronald] Arkin suggests trying to design ethical control systems that make military robots respect the Geneva Conven tion and other rules of engagement on the battlefield. 'I have a moral responsibility to make sure that these weapons are introduced responsibly and ethically, and reduce risks to non-combatants,' he says."

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February 27, 2008: Robot as good as real dog at easing lonely hours. By Julie Steenhuysen. Reuters / also available from (Even a faux Fido can comfort lonely people). "A friendly dog can make older people feel less isolated -- and it appears to make little difference if that wagging tail belongs to a robot doggie or the real thing. Researchers at Saint Louis University in Missouri compared a 35-pound (16 kg), floppy-eared mutt named Sparky with AIBO, a far-from-lifelike robot dog, to see how residents of three U.S. nursing homes would respond. ... While AIBO has been discontinued, [Dr. William] Banks thinks similar robots could offer companionship for older people and might even be programmed to keep tabs on their owners, alerting emergency workers of a sudden fall."

  • Also see:

    • Robotic pet won't soil your carpet. By Tom Abate. San Francisco Chronicle | SFGate (March 3, 2008). "The first time pet lover Linda McKenzie saw the robotic dinosaur named Pleo, she decided $349 was a deal for this battery-powered, computer-controlled toy that exhibits four lifelike behaviors: It can play tricks, roam the house, sleep when bored and tug on a fake leaf to simulate hunger. ‘It reminded me of an iguana I used to have,’ said McKenzie, 60, who got her Pleo in December and now takes it regularly to visit her 87-year-old father, Milton Lazarus, who lives in a senior residence in Santa Rosa. … For 50 years, robots have populated science fiction tales. Since the '70s they've welded and riveted cars. Their disembodied, software cousins -- artificial intelligence systems such as search engines -- have answered gazillions of questions without tiring since the 1990s. Now, with Pleo, toy robots are starting to offer poop-free alternatives to dogs, and faux companionship with less attitude than cats. … Carnegie Mellon University robotics Professor Illah Nourbakhsh has thought about why humans form attachments to what they clearly understand to be artificial constructs. It happens all the time, not just to people who buy Pleos, he said. … Ugobe senior programmer Tyler Wilson offered a peek under Pleo's flexible plastic skin at the hardware and software that enable this mechanical construct to evoke such feelings. … "

    • Robotic Dog Proves A Good Companion. Sky News (March 4, 2007). "A robotic dog has proved just as effective as a real animal in relieving loneliness in elderly people. Researchers in America introduced robotic dog Aibo and a lovable live pooch to residents at a St Louis nursing home - and each turned out to be as popular as the other. The study by Saint Louis University found the real dog, named Sparky, and the robotic hound, Aibo, were an equal match as man's best friend. The research builds on previous studies which showed that frequent dog visits decreased the loneliness of nursing home residents."

    • Digital dogs. By Cho Hyun-wook. JoongAng Daily (March 5, 2008). "Dogs have lived among humans for millennia. … Nowadays they play a big role as pets, because as a friend and family member dogs show unswerving loyalty and love. Nonetheless, a challenger to the dog has suddenly surfaced: robots. Research has proven that in relieving the loneliness of old people, real dogs and robot dogs are nearly equally effective. These findings by researchers at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri were published in the latest Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. … AIBO is the first robotic dog that emulates a real dog's behavior. Sony began to sell it in 1999 at $2,000 apiece, recording 11,000 units in total sales. The company stopped producing it in 2006. But there are rumors that a new model with the ability to identify its owner will be on the market soon If artificial intelligence continues to develop at this rate, robot dogs will be able to do the same things as real dogs. Further, there will no misunderstandings, hypocrisy or betrayals, only loyalty. Still, if you can buy these qualities any time you want, then it can’t be the real thing."

    • Robo-pet - Pleo's a toy. But, beware: He has a brain. This is artificial intelligence made commercial. e+ spoke to a few people who couldn't resist the urge to adopt a Pleo. Here's what they have to say. By Mubashera Asgher. Gulf News (March 6, 2008). "Brought into the UAE two months ago by Rizwan Ashraf, CEO of i robo, Pleo has taken the market by storm. Families and single people all over the country are eager to take a Pleo home. And here's why. Ali Al Qamzi, a UAE national, bought his Pleo about a month ago. Rex, as Ali's children named him, is the Al Qamzi family's pride and joy. …Soon, Rex became more than just the family pet. ‘It's a great learning curve for the children,’ says Ali. ‘They've been on about having a pet for ages, but they're allergic to cats. Now with Rex, everyone's happy.’ … T. Yorke, a British citizen, l oves his Pleo for a different reason. 'For me, experimentation is key,’ says Yorke. ‘I bought my Pleo because I'm curious about gadgets. To me, he's a case study, albeit a cute one. As a concept, Pleo's pretty cool, but I'd say it's still the early stage of artificial intelligence. Like when the first mobile phone came out in the market. I think Pleo has the potential to go a long way.’"

    • Robots that love too much: the perils of the silicone spouse. Opinion by Graham Phillips. The Age (March 9, 2008). "Will we soon be marrying robots? Artificial intelligence researcher David Levy has just published a book claiming human-robot sex will be a happening thing in the next few decades. … It will be relatively easy to form strong attachments to machines, because the human mind is quite easily fooled. It loves to anthropomorphise: to ascribe human attributes to other creatures -- even objects. For example, researchers in San Diego recently put a small humanoid robot in with a toddler playgroup for several months. The bot knew each child because it was programmed with face and voice recognition, and it giggled when tickled. The children ended up treating it as a fellow toddler. When it lay down because its batteries were flat, the kids even covered it with a blanket. … The next question, then, is whether there is anything wrong with loving a machine. Even today there are people who form deep attachments to their pets and use them as substitutes for friends or even children. Few consider that unethical. But a sophisticated robot will be far more alluring."

  • Also watch this video: Dinosaur wows the techies at CeBIT. Reuters (March 5, 2008), "Pleo the robotic dinosaur proves to be a star attraction at the CeBIT annual computer expo in Germany. Pleo was designed by its creators, the Californian company Ugobe, to emulate the appearance and behaviour of a week-old infant Camerasaurus. It's being marketed as a household pet. Helen Long reports."

-> back to headlines

February 27, 2008: 'Scolding' software to speed planet hunt. By Zeeya Merali. New Scientist (Issue 2644: page 26; subscription req'd). "Last week, astronomers reported spotting the first multiplanet system orbiting another star, thanks to a network of robotic telescopes dotted around the world (see 'One-hit-wonder planet-spotting technique adds a new feather to its cap'). Each telescope runs software that allows it to alert the entire network as soon as it spots something interesting. The telescopes then bid for the chance to carry out follow-up observations, citing their assessment of their equipment, position and availability. ... [Alasdair] Allan and his colleagues have built a software control system (/abs/0802.0431) that ranks telescopes on the data they return. If a telescope fails to ke ep its promises, the system scolds it, instructing it to work out why it failed and to be more modest."
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February 27, 2008: Translation camera phone - Nokia's Karri Pulli shows Darren Waters a mobile that reads Chinese and translates it into English. Filmed on a mobile phone as part of the BBC News Future Mobile project. BBC News.
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February 28, 2008: Plan to teach baby robot to talk. BBC News. "Staff at the University of Plymouth will work with a 1m-high (3ft) humanoid baby robot called iCub. Over the next four years robotics experts will work with language development specialists who research how parents teach children to speak. Their findings could lead to the development of humanoid robots which learn, think and talk. ... A consortium led by the University of Plymouth, a world leader in cognitive robotics research, beat competition from 31 others to win a £4.7m grant for the Italk - Integration and Transfer of Action and Language Knowledge in Robots - project."

  • Visit the RobotCub website - home of the iCub: "This is an open project in many different ways: it will distribute its platform openly, it will develop software open-source, and we are open to including new partners and form collaboration worldwide."

-> back to headlines

February 29, 2008: Humans Are Just Machines for Propagating Memes. By Kim Zette. Wired News. "In the 1970s, Richard Dawkins coined the term 'meme' in his book The Selfish Gene to refer to aspects of human culture and how they evolve in a way that's analogous to how genes evolve. Since then, the study of memes has become an evolving meme itself. A meme is an idea or thing that is passed from person to person and is either adopted for its usefulness or other purpose -- in some cases becoming a wildly popular idea that can't be stopped -- or abandoned to die a quick and ignoble death. A meme can be a song or snippet of a song, a dance, an urban legend, an expression or behavior, a product brand or even a religion. British scholar Susan Blackmore, who delivered a presentation on memes at the TED [Technol ogy, Entertainment, Design] conferenceThursday morning, says that human beings are being overrun by memes that want to use us for their own advancement. spoke with her at TED. ... Blackmore: ... Up until very recently in the world of memes, humans did all the varying and selecting. We had machines that copied -- photocopiers, printing presses -- but only very recently do we have artificial machines that also produce the variations, for example (software that) mixes up ideas and produces an essay or neural networks that produce new music and do the selecting. There are machines that will choose which music you listen to. It's all shifting that way because evolution by natural selection is inevitable. There's a shift to the machines doing all of that. We're not there yet. But once we're there, there's going to be evolution of memes out there that is totally out of our control. Wired: What will that look like? Blackmore: Well, it will look like humans ar! e just a minor thing on this planet with masses (of) silicon-based machinery using us to drag stuff out of the ground to build more machines. ..."
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March 2008 [issue date]: This Psychologist Might Outsmart the Math Brains Competing for the Netflix Prize. By Jordan Ellenberg. Wired (16.03). " In October 2006, Netflix announced it would give a cool seven figures to whoever created a movie-recommending algorithm 10 percent better than its own. … Secrecy hasn't been a big part of the Netflix competition. The prize hunters, even the leaders, are startlingly open about the methods they're using, acting more like academics huddled over a knotty problem than entrepreneurs jostling for a $1 million payday. … [Gavin] Potter has had to work hard to understand and implement the complex mathematics that most contestants use. But he's no stranger to computers -- as a young man he built an Ohio Scientific Superboard home computer from a kit and wrote software to predict the outcome of Premier League football matches. Anyway, his strategy isn't to out-math the mathematicians. He wants to exploit something they're leaving untapped: human psychology. … The [contest] data set, 100 times larger than any of its kind previously made public, is like a new, free library for specialists in data mining. … Many of the contestants begin, like Cinematch does, with something called the k-nearest-neighbor algorithm -- or, as the pros call it, kNN. This is what uses to tell you that ‘customers who purchased Y also purchased Z.’ … The computer scientists and statisticians at the top of the leaderboard have developed elaborate and carefully tuned algorithms for representing movie watchers by lists of numbers, from which their tastes in movies can be estimated by a formula. Which is fine, in Gavin Potter's view — except people aren't lists of numbers and don't watch movies as if they were. Potter likes to use what psychologists know! about human behavior. … [I]f he wins, he'll be the guy who pointed the way to a new synthesis between psychology and computer science -- and pocketed a million dollars in the process."
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March 4, 2008: NZ's Massive Software exhibits in Germany. By Jon Valjean. Gameplanet News. "Massive software announced today that it will be exhibiting at CeBIT as part of the New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) stand along with other exemplary New Zealand-based technology innovators. Academy Award-winning Massive is the revolutionary 3D animation system that incorporates procedural animation and artificial intelligence. Massive is used by animation and visual effects artists to explore the new world of creative opportunities that AI-enabled characters make possible. … As part of Massive’s exhibit, representatives from Hanson Robotics will be on hand to demonstrate Zeno, the first AI-driven robot using the breakthrough artificial intelligence (AI) software from Massive to reason and get smarter ov er time." *

  • Also see: The robot that walks and talks like Gollum. By Stuart Turton. PC Pro (March 5, 2008). " The artificial intelligence (AI) technology which once told the Orcs which humans to hit in the Lord of the Rings is now finding its way into a myriad of other applications, and could even be bringing the next generation of robotics into our living rooms. … ’The genesis of the idea was to author an AI that could drive the behaviours, first of a virtual character that could act on their own behalf, and then drive the servos of something like Zeno - that was how it was conceived even at the beginning,’ says Diane Holland, chief executive officer of Massive. ‘The same technology that drove Gollum's movement is now driving Zeno's movement.’"

  • Watch this related video from BBC News (March 2008): Robot toy can be your 'friend'. "At the Cebit technology fair, David Hanson of Hanson Robotics displays [Zeno] his ‘character toy’, a robot that can ‘become your friend’".

> back to headlines

March 4, 2008: A Virtual Travel Agent With All the Answers. By Joe Sharkey. The New York Times. "I hate being addressed by machines. … So I was skeptical when I got a news release informing me that Alaska Airlines and its subsidiary, Horizon Air, had introduced on the Web site a ‘virtual assistant named Jenn.’ Jenn, it said, responds orally to typed questions, ‘asks follow-up questions when needed’ and also provides a written response and displays the site’s relevant page. Jenn also has a personality, it said, and ‘answers many personal questions. Jenn is not annoying. She is depicted on the Web site as a young brunette with a nice smile. Her voice has proper inflections. Type in a question, and she replies intelligently…. Jenn was designed by a technology company in Spokane, Wash., the Nex t IT Corporation (), which has a goal of simplifying interaction between people and computers, using natural-language communications to retrieve information and even ask follow-up questions to clarify intent. While the Next IT voice technology depends on typed questions to elicit oral responses, the field is evolving. In a recent speech at Carnegie Mellon University, Bill Gates said that Microsoft was committed to developing more sophisticated methods that used two-way speech technology to improve the give and take between users and databases. … Jenn learns from experience and interaction. ‘This technology is trained, but it gets smarter over time,’ Mr. [Fred] Brown said."
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March 4, 2008: Party like it's 1969. By Graeme Philipson. The Sydney Morning Herald. "I nominate 1969 as the year the computer industry began. It's astonishing just how much happened that year. Much of it was not appreciated at the time, but with the benefit of nearly 40 years of hindsight we can view 1969 as the formative year of modern computing. … It was in 1969 that Xerox established its famous Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC), where many important advances in computing technology were subsequently developed, such as the Ethernet networking standard, and the graphical user interface (i.e. mice and windows). It was also a big year for the nascent science of robotics. Across the road from PARC, at the Stanford Research Centre, 1969 saw the development of Shakey, the first mobile robot with vision. In 1969 Alan Kay, a graduate student at the University of Utah, published his PhD thesis on the Dynabook, a ‘personal information system’ the size of a small book that would provide access to external data and provide users with a range of personal productivity tools."
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March 4, 2008: World-wise web? By Richard Waters. Financial Times | . "Imagine, for instance, being able to ask a computer, ‘Where should I go on holiday?’ and receiving an answer that is as suitable as anything you could have come up with yourself. That level of computer-generated reasoning is on the horizon, says Nova Spivack, one of the entrepreneurs involved. It may still take 15 years or more to be fully realised, but between now and then lies a series of breakthroughs that will revolutionise the way we draw information from the web, he adds. This technology draws its inspiration, and some of its techniques, from a field that has provided more than its fair share of disappointments over the years: artificial intelligence (AI). … The basic building block for this new technology movement is something known as the ‘semantic web’. This has become one of the most controversial, and misused, terms in the internet industry, conjuring up as it does a vague promise that meaning will somehow become part of the medium. … [T]he semantic web depends on a set of ‘ontologies’, or dictionaries that help to create common definitions that can be universally applied. These may oversimplify the great complexities of meaning, but they are designed to establish a basic common level of understanding about language to allow machines to do their work. … To create those common ways of looking at the world, however, means crossing some deep political, philosophical and cultural divides. … Meanwhile, technologies first developed for use in AI are being brought to bear. Chief among these is natural language processing, or teaching software to discern the meaning in a piece of text. … Further in the future, adding a degree of reasoning to the software may ena! ble it to filter and select information. … This fuller version of artificial intelligence is still over the horizon but the path towards it is 'a continuum', says Mr [Danny] Hillis."
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March 5, 2008: Supersmart machines have some sort of future. By Daniel Connolly. Commercial Appeal. "Dreams of godlike machines were in the air at the Artificial General Intelligence conference at the University of Memphis this week. … Their goal, as Ben Goertzel explained it, was to move the study of artificial intelligence away from building computers that excel at narrow tasks, like playing chess, toward building machines that can think for themselves much as people do. … The seminar featured 2 1/2 days of abstract and technical lectures, but finished with a session on the ethical and social implications of trying to create superintelligent machines."

  • Watch the promotional video for The First Conference on Artificial General Intelligence, FedEx Institute of Technology, University of Memphis. In cooperation with AAAI, March 1-3, 2008.

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March 5, 2008: New Science Ministry Will Focus on Fundamental Study. By Cho Jin-seo. The Korea Times. "The government should pay more attention to fundamental science research rather than spending money on already prospering applied science and technologies, said the new minister of education and science. … [Kim Doh-yeon] also said that Koreans should know that science can determine the future of a country. … The SERI [Samsung Economic Research Institute] report asked the government to focus on six fundamental science fields, while leaving the IT and other profitable sectors to the private sector. The six fields are smart logistics and energy infrastructure; bionomics and drugs; renewable energies; unmanned military equipment; nanotechnology; and artificial intelligence."
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March 5, 2008: SENIOR project initiates ethical debate on ICT for the elderly. CORDIS News. "Dubbed Assistive Technologies (AT), these technologies aim to improve the day-to-day activities of the elderly, as well as people with disabilities, to supplement their loss of independence. However, while they hold great promise on the one hand, these technologies can also run the risk of further isolating the these population groups. ‘Technology can alleviate the burden of dependency by allowing people to live autonomously at home or in an assisted environment,’ Professor [Emilio] Mordini told CORDIS News. ‘Yet technology can also seriously threaten people's autonomy and dignity,’ he added. For these reasons the project will aim to provide a systematic assessment of the social, ethical and privacy issues involved in I CT and ageing. … Surveillance technology is just one area which is likely to undergo rigorous assessment by the project consortium." *

  • Check out the project site: Social Ethical and Privacy Needs in ICT for Older People: A DIALOGUE ROADMAP.

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March 5, 2008: Mind-reading with a brain scan. By Kerri Smith. Nature News. "Scientists have developed a way of ‘decoding’ someone’s brain activity to determine what they are looking at. ‘The problem is analogous to the classic "pick a card, any card" magic trick,’ says Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California in Berkeley, who led the study. But while a magician uses a ploy to pretend to ‘read the mind’ of the subject staring at a card, now researchers can do it for real using brain-scanning instruments. ‘When the deck of cards, or photographs, has about 120 images, we can do better than 90% correct,’ says Gallant."

  • Listen to this episode of Nature Podcast (March 6, 2008): "A 'doomsday' seed bank in Svalbard, the last pieces of the CERN jigsaw puzzle, a new method for brain-reading and Creationism in Texas."

  • Also see:

    • "Brain Reading" Device Can Predict What People See. By Ker Than. National Geographic News (March 5, 2008). "A new computer program can match brain activity with visual images and even predict what people are seeing, a study has shown. … The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure activity in the visual cortices of participants' brains as they looked at photographs of animals, food, people, and other common objects.The fMRI technique is a relatively new way to measure changes in the brain's blood oxygen levels, which have strong links to neural activity. The collected data were used to ‘teach’ a computer program to associate certain blood flow patterns with particular kinds of images. Participants were then asked to look at a second set of images they had never encountered before. The mod el was programmed to take what it had learned from the previous pairings and figure out what was being shown in the new set of images."

    • Mind Reading with Functional MRI - Scientists use brain imaging to predict what someone is looking at. By Emily Singer. Technology Review News (March 5, 2008). "[Jack] Gallant and his team plan to use this technology to better understand how the visual system works by building computational models of various theories and then testing their ability to interpret brain scans."

    • Mind-reading machine knows what the eye can see. By James Urquhart. news (March 5, 2008).

  • And watch this video, from our AI Video collection, about other research being done in this field.

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March 5, 2008: Research company gets keys to library (with an embedded video clip featuring Kenneth M. Ford, director of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition). By Rick Cundiff. | The Ocala Star-Banner. "The former downtown library is about to go high-tech as a new branch of a Pensacola-based research lab. The Ocala City Council voted 4-1 with no discussion Tuesday to approve the sale of the former library building and land at 15 S.E. Osceola Ave. to the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. … IHMC conducts advanced research on artificial intelligence, robotics and other high-tech projects, seeking ways in which the hardware and software can adapt to human needs. Its clients include the U.S. Defense Department, NASA, Lockheed Ma rtin, Honda, Sun Microsystems and IBM, among others. [IHMC director Ken] Ford presented examples of IHMC's work at the EDC meeting, showing PowerPoint slides of the organization's work on advanced robotics, including a powered artificial leg, a proposed new lunar vehicle for NASA and robots capable of crawling over uneven or rocky ground for military purposes. IHMC is affiliated with four universities: the University of West Florida, Florida Atlantic University, the University of Central Florida and the Florida Institute of Technology. The institute plays a major role in Pensacola's cultural and educational life, offering science programs for students and a lecture series and other programs for the community. … IHMC will begin recruiting researchers for the Ocala expansion immediately, Ford said, noting it can sometimes take three to five years to recruit people from other research organizations."

  • Also see this editorial: Much more than science. | The Ocala Star-Banner (March 6, 2008). "We suspect most Marion Countians are taking just such a wait-and see attitude toward the much ballyhooed arrival of the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Ocala. After all, the super high-tech robotics research outfit will create only a few dozen jobs at first, and they will be for highly specialized researchers with academic pedigrees. But make no mistake, landing IHMC is a coup of immeasurable proportions for Ocala. … Ford has surrounded himself with an impressive line-up of scientific talent. How impressive? Well, the list is long, but suffice it to say Florida is home to five fellows of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, and all five are employed at IHMC. … But IHMC isn't just about s cience. Don't expect this bunch to be reclusive intellectuals who are aloof from the community. Ford told EDC members that besides undertaking some of the world's most cutting-edge research in 'rethinking the relationship between humans and machines,' IHMC wants to be part of the community through education and outreach -- especially by sharing their scientific know-how with children and schools -- and economic development. … Welcome to Ocala, Dr. Ford and IHMC. We can't wait to see what you do -- in the laboratory and out."

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March 7, 2008: 3-D Modeling Advance - A single photo can be reconstructed into a 3-D scene with Make3D. By Brittany Sauser. Technology Review News. "Researchers at Stanford University have developed a Web service called Make3D that lets users turn a single two-dimensional image of an outdoor scene into an immersive 3-D model. This gives users the ability to easily create a more realistic visual representation of a photo--one that lets viewers fly around the scene. To convert the still images into 3-D visualizations, Andrew Ng, an assistant professor of computer science, and Ashutosh Saxena, a doctoral student in computer science, developed a machine-learning algorithm that associates visual cues, such as color, texture, and size, with certain depth values based on what they have learned from studying two-dimensional photos paired with 3-D data. &he llip; Larry Davis, a professor and chair of the computer-science department at the University of Maryland, in College Park, says that turning a single image into a 3-D model has been a hard and mathematically complicated problem in computer vision, and that even though Make3D gets things wrong, it often produces remarkable results. … Make3D is not the first site to extract a 3-D model from a single image. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) launched Fotowoosh in May 2007. … CMU's [Alexei] Efros says that the work provides a new perspective on the computer-vision problem and will hopefully result in a deeper understanding of how human vision functions."

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