Beating Common Sense into Interactive Applications
Speaker: Henry Lieberman , MIT Media Lab
Date: September 5 2003
Relevant URL: http://web.media.mit.edu/~lieber/Lieberary/Common-Sense/Common-Sense-Intro.html
(with Hugo Liu, Push Singh, Barbara Barry)
A long-standing dream of artificial intelligence has been to put common sense knowledge into computers-enabling machines to reason about everyday life. Some projects, such as Cyc, have begun to amass large collections of such knowledge. However, it is widely assumed that the use of common sense in interactive applications will remain impractical for years, until these collections can be considered sufficiently complete and common sense reasoning sufficiently robust.
Recently, at the MIT Media Lab, we have had some success in applying common sense knowledge in a number of intelligent Interface Agents, despite the admittedly spotty coverage and unreliable inference of today's common sense knowledge systems. The key is to look for situations where the interface is underconstained, and knowing a little bit about a lot of things is more useful than knowing a lot about a few things. Common Sense can be added to applications in a fail-soft manner, so that if the knowledge is missing or wrong, the consequences are no worse than using a conventional application.
Henry Lieberman has been a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory since 1987. His interests are in the intersection of artificial intelligence and the human interface. He directs the Software Agents group, which is concerned with making intelligent software that provides assistance to users in interactive interfaces. He recently edited the book, "Your Wish is My Command: Programming by Example" (Morgan Kaufmann, 2001) that shows how to teach a machine new behavior by demonstrating solutions to concrete examples, and having the machine generalize a program. He is also working on agents for browsing the Web and for digital photography. He has also built an interactive graphic editor that learns from examples, and from annotation on images and video. He worked with graphic designer Muriel Cooper in developing systems that supported intelligent visual design. Other projects involve reversible debugging and visualization for programing environments, and new graphic metaphors for information visualization and navigation. From 1972-87, he was a researcher at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He started with Seymour Papert in the group that originally developed the educational language Logo, and wrote the first bitmap and color graphics systems for Logo. He also worked with Carl Hewitt on actors, an early object-oriented, parallel language, and developed the notion of prototype object systems and the first real-time garbage collection algorithm. He holds a doctoral-equivalent degree (Habilitation) from the University of Paris VI and was a Visiting Professor there in 1989-90.
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