Print 16 comment(s) - last by SharkManEXR.. on Dec 6 at 12:41 PM

SRI International receives funding from DARPA for its CALO AI program

Artificial intelligence. We've been reading and watching science fiction with walking, talking robots for nearly a century. Researchers have been tinkering with it for decades. Have we come any closer to android production factories? Not quite. But the CALO project, under the direction of SRI International, is looking at making headway in basic intelligence for widely used computer software.

CALO, or Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes, is a very ambitious collaboration between more than twenty different organizations. "The goal of the project is to create cognitive software systems, that is, systems that can reason, learn from experience, be told what to do, explain what they are doing, reflect on their experience, and respond robustly to surprise," states SRI's CALO information page.

CALO brings together many experts from different fields of artificial intelligence, like machine learning, natural language processing, and Semantic Web technologies. Groups work on a different piece of CALO, which will be part of the whole functionality.

The project is being funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under its Perceptive Assistant that Learns (PAL) program. The PAL program is expected to spawn innovative ideas that bring new science, fundamental approaches to current problems, and algorithms and tools and yield technology of significant value to the military. SRI was awarded the first two phases of a five-year contract to develop a personalized cognitive assistant.

While it’s not the artificial intelligence made popular by science-fiction writers like Dick and Asimov, CALO looks to be genuinely helpful to its targeted end-users, government agencies and possibly business. The PAL project is aimed at military use, but future packages or derivatives of CALO could be very helpful to business professionals that are constantly on the move by helping them schedule meetings and prioritize information.

The package can assist users in this way by analyzing patterns in information such as e-mail correspondence. Information importance can be learned by CALO so that the data is pushed to the top of the list judged by which projects and people it comes from.

The system's speech recognition abilities can also put data prioritization to use in meetings. The software can prioritize the data it gathers in regards to the user's projects and create lists and make appointments with involved parties.

One of the strengths of the system is that it can learn the needs of individuals through their habits and interactions, much like a personal assistant of the human kind. Rather than offering canned advice and only acting on human intervention, the software can make assumptions about a user's needs and plan accordingly. It will even be able to reschedule meetings if participants become unable to attend. Whether or not it would inform other attendees was not specified, but imagine if the system was interconnected to other learning systems on a network, that it could very well inform those assistants, who could in-turn inform their users of the change.

In an intranet situation, such as for a large business or the given military agency application, the system would be incredibly beneficial in that rather than depending on humans, who sometimes aren't at their desks or transpose numbers in a date or time, the software agents could work together seamlessly and accurately. Since the system is a learning system, mistakes are not probably out of the question, but replacing human error and time delay may outweigh the occasional mis-prioritized e-mail -- which the system could learn was mis-prioritized, reducing the likelihood of a similar mistake in the future.

One of the most challenging endeavors for the project is creating a consistent data system that CALO can use for decision making. Gathered data will likely be very disjointed and uncertain. To use this data, various members of the project are working on a probability consistency engine. This engine brings together two of the traditional approaches to artificial intelligence: logic and probability. Probability will be good for finding related data in the chaotic data the software gathers, while logic will better handle the meaning of the data.

Adam Cheyer, program director of the artificial-intelligence center at SRI says of the project, "What’s different and has never been done before in this way is the truly integrated approach of bringing all of these technologies and all of these capabilities into a single system. It takes a system of this size to give you something that can understand and organize so much information."

While the CALO project will probably not be able to respond to a user's mood, play them in a game of poker, or drive a car, the ambitious undertaking promises evolution in the artificial intelligence field by combining so many different types of systems, methods and applications. Some of the key features for a true AI are in its ability to learn from many different sources of data, adapt in adverse situations and interact with humans on a level that we are comfortable with. While not housed in an attractive mechanical body, CALO could show us the first steps in unified systems capable of such performance.

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WOuld be Nice
By BMFPitt on 12/5/2007 12:08:11 PM , Rating: 2
The goal of the project is to create cognitive software systems, that is, systems that can reason, learn from experience, be told what to do, explain what they are doing, reflect on their experience, and respond robustly to surprise
I wish we had more humans that could do that.

RE: WOuld be Nice
By Master Kenobi on 12/5/2007 12:44:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yea, no kidding. You telling me I can replace some co-workers with AI software? Where do I sign up?!?!

RE: WOuld be Nice
By Drexial on 12/5/2007 2:30:09 PM , Rating: 2
thats the idea....

RE: WOuld be Nice
By NEOCortex on 12/6/2007 12:03:37 PM , Rating: 2
SRI's CALO Project: Putting human secretaries out of jobs since 2010.

RE: WOuld be Nice
By SharkManEXR on 12/6/2007 12:41:04 PM , Rating: 2
would be nice if they cut down on the software tech support as well.

By therealnickdanger on 12/5/2007 9:18:42 AM , Rating: 2

By wushuktl on 12/5/2007 9:35:10 AM , Rating: 2
Uh, John, what kind of Gateway do you have?

My CPU is a neural net processor - a learning computer


By Amiga500 on 12/5/2007 10:19:35 AM , Rating: 2
Aye.... but can it play Doom?

OK, but can it post?
By Terberculosis on 12/5/2007 10:40:12 AM , Rating: 2
I can't wait to get my own copy, then I can use it to post on my favorite message boards for me, and tell me which posts I should read.

Also: If it notices my porn watching habbits, will it start taking viagra spam out of my junk email folder and prioritizing it?

RE: OK, but can it post?
By NicePants42 on 12/5/2007 12:16:06 PM , Rating: 2

More importantly, to whom does it report your daily activities? Does your boss get a nice little pie chart detailing the amount of time you spent on the phone/reading emails/drinking coffee/spacing out?

This thing seems like it would be a conspiracy theorist's dream.

RE: OK, but can it post?
By Drexial on 12/5/2007 2:29:36 PM , Rating: 2
first off its software, so monitoring your daily activities that much, no. it doesn't take AI to calculate time usage on computers (websense)

George's best PAL
By wordsworm on 12/5/2007 10:54:49 AM , Rating: 3
Sounds like the Pentagon is going to give Bush what he was promised before he went to the dark side: a friend.

Network AI
By TimberJon on 12/5/2007 12:17:06 PM , Rating: 3
Dave, how many nodes are active at this time?

::Two hundred and twenty six nodes show activity above 5% idle since oh-eight-hundred this morning::
[Process time 5 seconds]

::Would you like the net traffic results?::

No that's ok Dave. Please wake up all supervisor nodes and give me a present ratio.

::Just a moment::
[Process time 15 seconds]

::26 of 32 supervisors are clocked in and on-site. One has registered a sick day. The remaining five are incoming, ETA average 13 minutes. During force-wakeup Node 125 and 132 did not wake up when prompted. Both are located on Floor 3::

Thank you Dave, print requisition papers for two replacement gigabit network interface cards directly to resources. Then go into diagnostics and security mode, and summon your eAI assistants to help with network management.
Leave 25% of your processing on-call.



Itd be great. There are better examples I suppose... like better automated-vacuum cleaners..

I think its a great leap of faith and funding. Perhaps they did not have many other projects to choose to fund..
This is a great project start after some of those guys slandered the future of AI development just a few weeks ago. And its going to be a BIG project with over 20 groups/organizations working on seperate aspects of the puzzle. Alot of arguing.. stress.. Hopefully we will see some results quickly.

Blockbuster Hit
By isorfir on 12/5/2007 9:36:00 AM , Rating: 2
Will Smith stars in a surprise double sequel: I, Am Robot

By Drexial on 12/5/2007 2:33:12 PM , Rating: 2
Is it always the military that gets things first? shouldn't we be sure it can handle making coffee on time before we put it in charge of killing things?

By euczechguy on 12/6/2007 2:22:47 AM , Rating: 2
yeah, we have come to this much earlier then i expected...
software, capable of learning and improvising...
dont they ever watch T3 Rise of The Machines?

this will be our doom in future...
we better not encourage it...

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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