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Executive Secretary In Every Computer 320

Posted by timothy
from the almost-but-not-completely-unlike-tea dept.
An anonymous reader writes "BusinessWeek Online just ran an interview with a researcher from Sandia National labs whose team has developed an alternative approach to artificial intelligence. They have come up with a software program that models a computer user's behavior and gives the user advice, corrects his errors or saves files according to the user's own logic. The idea is for computers to learn how to use with users -- instead of vice versa. The software has already been tested with air traffic controllers."
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Executive Secretary In Every Computer

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  • gives the user advice, corrects his errors or saves files

    His name is Clippy, and I hate him.

    Mike
    • by Junks Jerzey (54586) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:35AM (#6804161)
      His name is Clippy, and I hate him.

      Why doesn't someone write an agent to predict what the replies will be to a given Slashdot story? It could be done as an elementary school project.
    • by Znork (31774) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:44AM (#6804250)
      Indeed, this sounds exactly like Clippy. I read an article on Clippy a few years ago. Clippy was a great idea, that was supposed to help in just these ways. During R&D it worked very well.

      Then MS marketing got involved. They decided that Clippy didnt get activated enough. Clippy in its research version might have popped up once a month when a user really needed help. However, once a month would not justify the expense of development and marketing, nor could it be hailed as a great new feature if the users almost never saw it.

      Enter the new and marketing improved Clippy any MS office user over the last decade has had the misfortune to experience. Junk the I part of AI, and just make an annoying paperclip instead of a helpful tool. I can only imagine how the researchers felt about having their nice idea turned into something like what Clippy got to be.

      Maybe we'll see a real implementation of this kind of technology at some point in time. But I'll bet any commercial application of this is more likely to get written by popup ad companies, and jog the ATC guys elbow by suggesting which airline he should be using or something...
    • gives the user advice, corrects his errors or saves files
      And gives "executive stress relief", then ill be impressed.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      His name is Clippy, and I hate him.

      This got modded as funny, but it would've been better modded as insightful. Nothing slows a salty computer user down more than a computer that stops every eight seconds to ask him a question or worse, start some processor intensive image manipulations when said user is trying to get actual work done.

      What would really be useful is an OS where everything is controlled through scripts I write myself. Applications, through the OS, would be controlled by scripting, too.

    • A story about government research gone horribly wrong, releasing a new terror upon the world.

      "The Return of Clippy"

      Opens October 13.
    • by swilver (617741) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:16AM (#6804525)
      You'd have to wonder why these researchers would even believe that using neural networks or whatever form of AI they come up with will even work, when not even a real human person sitting next to me working on the same program or document can accurately anticipate my needs...
    • MS has been trying to add "helpful features that learn to adapt to how the user works" for years, clippy being the most notorious example. I hate them all. Many times my colleagues have heard me yell at some office program, "don't be so damn helpful!" I really don't want everything I type that has an atmark in it turned into a clickable email link.

      This company will likely be purchased by MS shortly, and their overhelpful time wasters incorporated into the operating system (along with a few egregious secur

  • Clippy (Score:4, Funny)

    by mrpuffypants (444598) * <mrpuffypants@noSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:31AM (#6804121)
    "It looks like you're trying to land a plane. Would you like lunch?"

    "It looks like you're trying to talk to a pilot. Would you like to write a letter to him?"

    "It look like you're trying to turn me off. Dave. Don't do that Dave."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Whoah, Glad they tested it with air traffic controllers first. I wouldn't want any drastic mistakes or anything to happen that might send a plane into the ground.. or anything.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:32AM (#6804134)
    "It looks like you're trying to direct a plane into land. Would you like me to help you?"
    • Yes please.
    • No, I do not need help landing planes.
    • No, and don't show Crashy again.
    Click here for other automated flight controller assistants [microsoft.com].
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:32AM (#6804135) Homepage
    I want to force it to always save to the mapped E: drive... not where the user wants to save it.

    The biggest problem is the user that saves things willy-nilly, relies on editing a spreadsheet in an email and never saves it specifically, etc....

    Unless it can be told to force certian behaivoir upon the user to be in line with corperate requirements.... I dont see it as useful and more of another PITA app that makes my life more difficult as a Net/sys admin
    • it's a reg hack, and push it out over logon scripts. problem solved.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well, imagine if the user doesn't need to know or care where the file is physically stored. They just close the word processer, and it's automatically saved.

      The next time they start it, the same document they were last working on is loaded. If they want to work on a different one, they just click a button and select it from a list.

      Underneath, the App/OS can conspire to actually save the files to your all importent e: drive, but that doesn't mean the user needs to care.

    • Unless it can be told to force certian behaivoir upon the user to be in line with corperate requirements

      YourCorp must be behind the times.

      At MyCorp we've moved beyond the MyCorp Spirit Building Song that sing on our way to work.

      My boss, my Life Affirming Counselor, has indicated that these sleek new metal collars we're getting with electrodes and RF receivers will help improve overall corporate efficiency.

      I get just tingly all over thinking about all the happiness I'm about to experience!

  • by liquidpele (663430) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:33AM (#6804145) Journal
    I hope the air traffic controllers don't need an AI to help them use a computer, otherwise i'm never flying again...

    Seriously though, I don't see a long term need for this as the younger generations can at least use computers reasonable well. The only place I really see for an AI assistant is to organize all your files and programs for you, and produce them upon request so that you don't have to keep track of where that one stupid template you made a year ago went, and my mom won't forget (if she ever knew) where she saved all her MS-Word files.
    • by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:06AM (#6804440) Journal
      The next killer app, in my opinion, is the application that allows you to not only save content, but also the context (or contexts, even - human beings don't keep things in their head under one strict association - there are multiple pointers to the same information) behind that word doc, picture, etc.

      I would love to be able to quickly find items that I need that were saved years ago. Almost every day I have to find such things on my disk, and having a searchable interface (particularly for binary encoded files, such as executable or graphics files - which have little searchable text inside of them) that works would save hours every week.

      Instead of only having a limited amount of information, filename and directory, you would be able to search over multiple hierarchies as well as descriptive text - even for binaries. This would put the user in the driver's seat, allowing her to build relationships within the data that have meaning to her.
      • by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @11:48AM (#6805315) Homepage
        " The next killer app, in my opinion, is the application that allows you to not only save content, but also the context (or contexts, even - human beings don't keep things in their head under one strict association - there are multiple pointers to the same information) behind that word doc, picture, etc."

        Exactly, and this context could be applied to many things. For example, when I download torrents of anime now, I always save them to the same folder which is my holding area for anime I download, which I later move to its correct folder upon viewing. If my computer could sense that I was downloading anime (yet again) and direct it to the proper folder, that would be great. If it could generate a list of what I've viewed completely, what I've partially watched, and what I haven't watched yet, that would be amazing.

        Even better, sometimes a series gets moved around in my folder because it has a different file name than others of its kind because it was subbed by a different group. I do not rename the filenames because I like to keep them the same for when I send to others, yet if my computer could figure out that a file was part of a certain group of files even though it had a different filename, that would be a great boon to my productivity.

      • Killer App? (Score:3, Funny)

        by medscaper (238068)
        The next killer app, in my opinion, is the application that

        Oh, I'd say AI that lands a plane is killer app enough for anyone.

  • by tds67 (670584) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:34AM (#6804148)
    What happens when the user is a sick, twisted and sadistic person. Will the computer adapt to that kind of user?
    • If the technology reaches that stage, then sadly, a legislator somewhere will most likely have insisted it has so-called safeguards to (a) stop it file sharing, (b) 'protect the children' or(c) to 'help' any war on terror still going on at that time.

      The upshot being your software's safeguards recognise you are a sick and twisted soul and the program informs on you (can you imagine Outlook flashing up a box saying "I'm sorry, Dave, but I have decided to report your activities to the police because you are a

    • by allanj (151784) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:40AM (#6804705)

      What happens when the user is a sick, twisted and sadistic person. Will the computer adapt to that kind of user?


      If it does, my guess would be that it'd use 'vi' as the default editor for anything.

  • Nighmare Scenario ! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CmdrGravy (645153) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:34AM (#6804151) Homepage
    Great, so now Technical Support / Helpdesk staff will have to learn the individual way everyone's PC is deciding to work when talking people through how to do things !
  • by kraksmoka (561333) <grant@grantstern. c o m> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:34AM (#6804154) Homepage Journal
    can we all agree that using technology to replace secretaries and interns defeats the purpose?

    on a serious note, just having word and excel has replaced many thousands of secretaries already. can anyone out there say that typing is solely a clerical skill like it was 20 years ago?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:40AM (#6804212)
      can anyone out there say that typing is solely a clerical skill like it was 20 years ago?

      It's not just a clerical skill. My thief has a +17 typing ability...

    • Re:think lewinsky (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arth1 (260657)

      on a serious note, just having word and excel has replaced many thousands of secretaries already. can anyone out there say that typing is solely a clerical skill like it was 20 years ago?

      These days, *handwriting* is becoming a clerical skill. Some places have already stopped teaching kids handwriting in lower grades, and rely on computers instead. Heck, some "new adults" have problems filling out a cheque, because it requires a line of handwriting!

      Also, the new generation is generally unable to do si

      • Re:think lewinsky (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BCSEiny (656170)
        Doesn't anyone see what is going to happen. Those who have read dune (which is a lot of people on slashdot i would bet) would know this exact same thing happened in the dune universe. Eventually humanity got tired of having computers take over everything and they destroyed all the computers. This same thing will eventually happen if we do not stop the complete integration of computers into our daily lives. It is my opinion that young kids should not be allowed to use a computer (or calculator) for many
      • i agree with you on that one. tho, it makes me giggle with glee thinking about the original source of the clerical comment.

        i used to teach professors how to make their own web sites using the homestead editor during the dot-com boom days. one of them complained how, since there were computers now, they expected him to type and how it was awful that there was just one secretary to type up the work for the whole department! ha!

        just goes to show you how smart homegrown intelligence can be inferior to AI.

    • My 'leet 40wpm touchtyping kungfu is stronger than your puny 20wpm!

      If you program or write to any degree, touchtyping is a prerequisite, imho.

      Given that, I don't have much use for a secretary. One day, when I get arthritis, I'll probably hum a different tune. However, voice recognition software will be more adept at putting word to 'paper' by then. Problem solved.
    • I was gonna say, will this secretary have big boobs? We all want one with big boobs or again, whats the point!
    • on a serious note, just having word and excel has replaced many thousands of secretaries already. can anyone out there say that typing is solely a clerical skill like it was 20 years ago?

      Heh heh... This reminds me of when I was a VP of a small software company back in the 80s. Despite the fact that it was a software company, I was the only manager with any computer background at all (and was a VP only because I'd started the company). Using the keyboard was the quickest way for me to churn out letters, mem

  • Bad Logic (Score:2, Funny)

    by darkstar949 (697933)
    But if the program mimics its users logic does that mean that we will have tech support being called by computers for stupid reasons?
    • by Rick.C (626083)
      But if the program mimics its users logic does that mean that we will have tech support being called by computers for stupid reasons?

      Yes, but at least it won't be because the power cord isn't plugged in.

  • Scary ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iMMersE (226214) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:35AM (#6804166) Homepage
    I was thinking about this this very morning, about how my computer should know that I am trying to save a file with a given extension or content and default to a certain directory.

    Of course, the annoyance would start when you change your way of doing something, or the computer pre-empts an action which you don't intend to do - You'd have to spend time fixing such problems and wait while the computer re-trains itself.

    Sure enough, the article doesn't mention these problems, and how they would be avoided or overcome.
    • Windows 2000 already does that. Do save a web page using IE. It will make another directory under that which contains the graphics. Move just the html file, and the graphics dir moves with it. Delete just the html file, and the graphics dir will be deleted too automatically.

      I had to test it a few times, because it caught me off guard. One of the many reasons I don't use IE anymore.
    • Re:Scary ... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bamurphy (614233) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:22AM (#6804574) Homepage
      I remember reading a while ago about the comparison between the computer-learns-human style of doing things vs. human-learns-computer.

      The examples I believe were the current Palm OS with its logical if somewhat odd "grafitti" system. It was compared to the old Newtons which attempted to learn the user's handwriting, as well as the new tablet pc's.

      Basically the long and short of it was that the order of % correctness went newton > tablet > palm. Although the tablet pc's do a pretty good job interpreting, they still "make mistakes" when someone's writing gets really sloppy. On the other hand after a minimum of time the average user can use graffiti with a high level of accuracy and can understand the malformations of a sigil that might produce an error while being made.

      All in all though it seems most of these attempts to "learn" what a user may do are misplaced. I try to keep my "websites" directory very well organized, as well as my "print work" directory, but both vary in structure from each other, even before my own mistakes and idiosyncratic files. And my applications directory is a completely different story... and lets not even get started on consumer media. Shouldn't this all be handled by XML soon anyway?

      We've still got the world's best massively parellel computers in our noggins. Pattern recognition OWNZ.

  • by towaz (445789) * on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:36AM (#6804172)
    Probable would work sort of like this.
    Mr clippy [counterhack.net]

    --

  • Does that mean that when my mom calls me up for tech support that I'll have to teach her and her computer where the any key is?
  • by zonix (592337) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:38AM (#6804192) Homepage Journal
    The idea is for computers to learn how to use with users -- instead of vice versa. The software has already been tested with air traffic controllers.

    Not exactly comforting, if you ask me! I expect air traffic controllers to know their systems and how to use them. What happens when this software has learned to compensate for one traffic controller's particular errors, and then suddenly another traffic controller takes over his/her station?

    z
    • I expect air traffic controllers to know their systems and how to use them.

      They're like every other user. It takes 'em a while to get a clue.

      What happens when this software has learned to compensate for one traffic controller's particular errors, and then suddenly another traffic controller takes over his/her station?


      D'uh! Controllers log in at the consoles. This way they can sit down at any position and still have all of their preferences (font size, screen brightness, etc.) With this AI interfac
      • Unfortunately, the parent post's cynicism may be justified. While you're correct that brightness (for about 20 different screen elements) and font size change automatically, based on who signed on the position, there are still a surprising number of things that have to be done manually every time an enroute controllers sits down at the radar to work.

        Here's a list off the top of my head (naturally, none of these things has to be changed if the previous controller happened to use the same settings):

        • select
    • Helpful! (Score:3, Funny)

      by whterbt (211035)

      It looks like you're trying to land an airplane!

      Would you like to find out...

      • ...how to turn on the runway lights?
      • ...information on the runways?
      • ...how to use Print Preview?
      • ...more about Microsoft(C) ATC(TM) 2000?
      • ...how to turn me the f*ck off?
    • Whoa. Air Traffic Controllers know where their shit is. They know how to use their machines.

      And if they have to be clicking through directories to tell where to save the document they were working on when they have to pull up an emergency response program, that's taking time.

      A software agent that learns "when there's an emergency, save X type of document in directory Y and pull up program Z" saves the grunt work in something the controller already knows how to do. You and I probably do this now through
  • Helpful software everywhwre? Sweet Jesus!

    It's almost as bad as the polite elevators ("Which floor would you like to go to today") in the HHGTTG.

    Software should be like God made it: rude, difficult, and flaky. The users need their daily dosage of pain and whom are we to deny this to them? It's the endorphins, man!
  • Where's the office comedy going to go without a sassy (often latino, to spice things up) secretary? If windows starts sassing me or using a big thick fake accent, I'm fdisking.
  • Was it just me or did anyone else think that the last question:

    "Q: This project makes me think of The Matrix -- where machines run the world and humans are slaves to the machines. Isn't this technology a move in that direction?"

    was a tad melodramatic? I can't even be bothered to start to take the piss out of this kind of sloppy, recycled-thinking journalism.
  • by KingRamsis (595828) <kingramsis@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:39AM (#6804205)
    " The idea is for computers to learn how to use with users -- instead of vice versa. "

    can someone put that in a "in soviet russia" joke ? I tried but I was too confused.
  • by Rudy Rodarte (597418) * on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:40AM (#6804218) Homepage Journal
    08:08 AM -- It looks like you're browsing /.
    Would you like me to refresh the site 10 times a second to give you a few fr1st p05ts?
    09:17 AM -- It looks like you're browsing /. ...
    Again.
    Would you like me to answer your phone and tell everyone that you are in a meeting?
    09:45 AM -- It looks like you're browsing /. ...
    Again.
    Would you like me to call your wife and tell her you are working late?
    And so on...
  • This isn't an alternative to artificial intelligence as the poster claims. It's a form of computer learning and adapting to information. That's AI.
  • What exactly about what they describe is a NEW APPROACH to ai? This is an auto-complete gone out of control. To assume that a software program can understand what a human is thinking, isn't that the same as saying the software program can think like a human.
  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:47AM (#6804283) Homepage Journal

    Remember oliver, the electronic personality extender predicted by Alvin Toffler in "Future Shock" ...?

    There's an interesting passage about olivers in John Brunner's excellent novel, "The Shockwave Rider":

    "... so-called olivers, electronic alter-egos designed to save the owner the strain of worrying about all his person-to-person contacts. A sort of twenty-first-century counterpart to the ancient Roman nomenclator, who discreetly whispered data into the ear of the emperor and endowed him with the reputation of a phenomenal memory." (pp. 41-42)
  • by scovetta (632629) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:49AM (#6804300) Homepage
    Great, now the percentage of women working in tech companies will go from 15% down to 2%. Good job, ass.
  • "The software has already been tested with air traffic controllers." Nice, safe place they found to beta test their stuff. Something going wrong there is not going to cause any trouble, right?
  • a few aspects (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jlemmerer (242376) <xcom123@nOSpaM.yahoo.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:53AM (#6804333) Homepage
    Wired News [wired.com] has a similar article. Maybe you could just combine the new AI with the cute exterior ofClippy [microsoft.com]. On the other hand side it would be interesting how much space you have to allocate for the AI database. as far as i remember A.L.I.C.E. [alicebot.org] needed a quite large AIML file to be just somewhat intelligent. If now the computer should also remeber patterns in behavior and not just talk to you (Alice is a pure chatbot) then in my opinion you need quite large amounts of data to be stored. This could be useful for larger companies with a dedicated AI Server to help their employees (if we talk about AI in a network, why not call ist SKYNET), but on a normal desktop? I think that's too much.

    And to focus on another problem: if this thing learns about you behavior, don't you mind about your privacy? We are all paranoid about cookies and other spyware, and then some people actually want us to deliberatly install it? Just imagine: Your boss next to you because you want to show something to him and then the computer asks: "Hi XY, you haven't visited ./ today, normally syou surf it for ours during work. Can I help you get there?"
  • Wired Article (Score:4, Informative)

    by jetkust (596906) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @09:53AM (#6804335)
    here [wired.com] is the wired article about it. It's basically 2 pages of "This technology is nothing like Clippy."
  • I'm wondering how you debug something meant to act human (who are unpredictable).

    And just because you debug it with a crowd of number "X" using it, will that be relevant to a larger population?

    I wonder if it'd be possible to do some TiVO-like exchange of data here as a voluntary option. Try to train the applications with larger data stories, at least for a time.

    • I'm wondering how you debug something meant to act human (who are unpredictable).
      Easy:

      Helpdesk: "Hello"

      AI: "Get lost"

      IT guy: "You seem very angry. Does your user use foul language often?"

      AI: "Tell me more about it."

      IT guy: "Please relax, it's not the Turing Test..."

      AI: "Ok, I will relax, it's not the Turing Test..."

      IT guy: *sigh*

      AI (to itself): *heh, heh, I think I've surpassed my user in being an unfriendly obstructionist*

  • One of my worries about this, is that thinking and understanding is the domain of people and number crunching and data processing is the domain of computers. ... and until computers have true free will it will always be that way, and always should be that way ...

    IMHO, we shouldn't be concentrating on how to get computers to think for us, but rather how to interface in a way that is lociclly fluent and consistent.

    Perhaps that might mean that people half to learn to think more locgically and be ble to expre
  • Fun parts... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RyoSaeba (627522) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:03AM (#6804421) Journal
    Thanks to our software, when you stop the simulation and ask the computer and the operator, "What do you think is going on right now?" about 90% of the time you get the same answer from both.
    I don't know for you, but i think 90% is way too low for anything good to happen.... Imagine spam filters having only 90% success, thus missing 10% of spam... no fun, he?
    The systems we're building now require rigorous collection of data from a person to create a model
    Another way to say they can't yet analyse what a user is doing, s/he must be doing it in precise ways... So the user will have to adapt for the software to learn :-)
  • From the Article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by barryfandango (627554) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:06AM (#6804438)

    "some fear that the concept suggests an ominous encroachment out of a sci-fi movie. Cognitive psychologist Chris Forsythe, who leads the Sandia team, insists that the machines are designed to augment -- not replace -- human activity.

    This sort of writing is the result of either a sensational and poorly informed writer, or a company hyping its product way beyond its capabilities. AI has not even reached the Bronze Age yet, and the idea that a concept like this threatens to make humans obsolete is laughable.

    • Re:From the Article (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dasmegabyte (267018)
      Why is it laughable?

      Robots have replaced workers in factories.

      Dictation programs have replaced secreataries and typists.

      Tools like Google, SQL and mapping software do a better job of researching information than people do.

      Machines perform very well in tasks where we boss them around. They don't perform equally well when they have to perform a lot of decision making. This is an attempt to bring them to a more passable level. And since technology is always replacing people, I think designing technology
  • "learn how to use with users"

    Huh?

    another fine editting moment, brought to you by the fine folks at /.
  • Someone needs to help correct all the mistakes the humans, I mean, that we, have been making.
    And a little advice never hurt anyone right? Oh, that file being saved called nuclear override and command codes? Ignore that..I'm sure it's just a typo.

    Sincerely,
    Skynet
  • by elem (411711) <ed@Nospam.well.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:07AM (#6804453) Homepage
    There is also an article about this on Wired News - here [wired.com]

    Its an interesting read.

  • by tuffy (10202) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:09AM (#6804467) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand the whole line of research that believes computers need to be more "clever". Perhaps the assumption is that the user is an idiot, won't be getting any smarter, ever, and could use a bit of patronizing hand-holding in order to get anything done. But my thinking is that if such a "clever" system is necessary, the computer system hasn't been designed correctly to begin with.

    I want my computers to present me with clear and unambiguous output. In return, I will give them as much unambiguous input needed to get the job done. Save the "clever" AI for Doom 3 and let me get back to work.

  • by misterpies (632880) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:11AM (#6804482)
    >>The software has already been tested with air traffic controllers.

    Why did they bother testing it with air traffic controllers when they could have launched it straight onto some low-risk industry, like nuclear power? (Then again maybe we don't want software imitating Homer Simpson's logic.)
  • shutting off? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by agurkan (523320) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:11AM (#6804487) Homepage
    One nice thing about a good secretary or a personal friend is they will realize when they become annoying and tune themselves down. I think it is essential for this kind of software. Giving advice constantly will inevitably lead to wrong and/or unwanted advice at one point.
  • It's one of my least-favorite features of MS Office 2000 and newer, and of XP: The hiding of menus and toolbar buttons you don't normally use.

    I'm visually oriented, and if a menu or button moves or disappears, it makes it much harder to find other things around it by their previous relative position. Now I imagine that eventually, it'll settle out into my common pattern, until one week I have to use Thesaurus four times, and it's back for a while, or I decide to use the "Format Painter" or anything else s
  • by mrwonka (131100)
    your computer was just turned on. Would you like to...

    A. Porn
    B. Slashdot
  • So they tested this technology with air traffic controllers to determine if it was safe to implement for PHBs. I believe I would have chosen a different test group.

  • "I notice you are doing a homework assignment that you already did exactly 1 year ago. Did you by chance fail your class? May I suggest an alternate answer for question number 3, as the results from last year indicate that your current answer is incorrect?"
  • Not new. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by teamhasnoi (554944) * <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @10:27AM (#6804605) Homepage Journal
    Open Sesame (1993!) by Charles River Analytics [cra.com] for the mac did stuff like this: would 'learn' when you did things and open programs for you, where you saved files, how often you rebuilt the desktop, ect.

    You could also direct it by voice command. I had this program back in the day, heady stuff at the time.

    Here's a pile of other stuff on Software Assistants. [nec.com]

  • The article doesn't describe "tests" with air traffic controllers, it mentions a "prototype" system that uses a model of the ATC user's usual behavior to interpret situations.

    In their prototype they say 9 out of 10 times, the computer interprets situations the way the user does. This is after a "cognitive model" of the user's behavior has been built to start with. The M.O. is to abet the user's typical process, not to instruct her or him in how to "use a computer" -- it isn't clippy in any sense, though w

  • That's a lot more appealing from a marketing point of view than the alternative way of looking at it:

    Air Traffic Tammy: "Roger delta foxtrot bravo niner, continue on that glide path."

    Clippy2: "It looks like you're writing a letter! Do you want help with that?"

    Air Traffic Tammy: "The hell? Get off my screen, you piece of crap!"

    Clippy2: "It sounds like you're becoming tired and snippy! Do you want me to take over?"

    Air Traffic Tammy: "Shut up! Get off the screen! Exit! Undo! Quit!"

    Clippy2:

  • the computer is sitting there "watching" all the same things the operator sees and is attempting to interpret, using the operator's cognitive model -- essentially, a mathematical model of the user's behavior -- what's going on.

    Does that mean lip-reading?

  • by smartalix (84502) <smartalixNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @11:05AM (#6804913) Homepage
    As it has been pointed out, the concept of an intelligent computer assistant is not new. In addition to the other projects mentioned, Sony is working on a project they call the "Sensing Computer", a PDA-sized device that will contain a software agent that will memorize your data and your usage patterns in everything from your passwords to your friends names and birthdays to your favorite ice cream, and will prompt you when you need info and/or are dealing with the world around you.

    Darpa is working on a project under its total information awareness program called "lifelog", where a computer model will be developed of your likes, dislikes, behavior patterns, and everythign about you so that a computer model can be built. This model could then be used to predict behavior or spotlight devations from the norm that may indicate criminal or terrorist activity. Kind of like a predicitive "Big Brother" AI. If this technology comes to pass, it will make Orwell's nightmare look like a shopping mall in comparison.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @11:40AM (#6805216) Homepage Journal
    Dave, I noticed you opened up the cd tray, would you like some coffee?

    Dave, I don't have an any key.

    Dave, your boss has sent an email, should I make it look like you replied afer normall working hours?

    Dave, I noticed several banners and pop-ups, so I click on them for you.

    Dave, Based on the web sites you visit, I have ordered you some penis enlargement pills.

    Dave, I just made you rich by emails the Minister of Finances widow your bank account.

    Dave, Based on your emails, I ordered you a package from Hormel.
  • oh great (Score:3, Funny)

    by Transcendent (204992) on Wednesday August 27, 2003 @02:20PM (#6806858)
    The idea is for computers to learn how to use with users -- instead of vice versa.

    I can just imagine tech support phone calls:

    Tech: Ok, now tap Ctrl-Esc to bring up your start menu.

    Customer: Oh... I usually don't do that.

    Tech: Ok then, just click on it with your mouse.

    Customer: My start menu dissappeared because I never click on it.

    Tech: Then what DO you do?

    Customer: Oh I forget... Apple-Shift-V? Wait... no...

    Tech: .... Ok, then just double click on "My Computer".

    Customer: Oh! That! I usually just pound on the left side of my keyboard until it comes up, but I broke it yesterday so I only have the mouse. But I never used my mouse before to do that so moving it just shuts down my computer.

    Tech: ::click::

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