Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Military Technology

DARPA Builds Smarter Version of Microsoft's Clippy 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the dead-but-dreaming-of-electric-sheep dept.
holy_calamity writes "Microsoft's animated paperclip may be long dead, but a $150m DARPA project has resurrected the idea of a virtual assistant. AI researchers from more than 60 institutions worked on the project entitled CALO. CALO is designed to help ease the bureaucratic burden of the military. A consumer spinoff, Siri, is coming to the iPhone later this year. It responds to conversational voice commands to take over multi-step tasks like choosing and booking restaurants or cabs."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

DARPA Builds Smarter Version of Microsoft's Clippy

Comments Filter:
  • by jamstar7 (694492) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:26PM (#28876419)
    ... to say "Oh, shit, there goes the neighborhood!"?

    I for one found Clippy to be annoying as hell, and was DAMNED glad they killed him.
    • by mrgiles (872216) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:35PM (#28876477)
      I can imagine it now.
      You: "Oh, shit, there go the neighbours!"
      iPhone Clippy (aloud): "I see you are trying to avoid your neighbours. Would you like me to. . . "
      You: "Shut up shutup SHUTUP!"
    • Re:Is it time yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:51PM (#28876587) Homepage Journal
      Clippy wasn't a bad IDEA, just executed VERY VERY poorly. Especially the bit where you tell it to "GO TO HELL" and try and find every setting that says "I don't ever want to see this shit again!", yet the jerk still keeps popping up :((
      • http://randomaxe.comicgenesis.com/d/20010725.html

        That is all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by fireman sam (662213)

        Clippy: "I see you want to go to Hell? May I suggest http://bingmaps.com.au/?action=location&location=hell [bingmaps.com.au] ?"

      • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd[ ]org ['ot.' in gap]> on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:44PM (#28877297)

        I disagree. I think Clippy, as a personal assistant, was by definition a bad idea.

        The computer is an extended tool. Which itself is an extension of your body.

        So the idea is, to make it a powerful but fully transparent thing. Like a Mech suit with Matrix interface.
        Our hands even have their own special "highway" path around the slow areas of the brain, because of our habit of extending our bodies trough them.

        Which means that separate entities in that space give you essentially a split personality. Much like Dr. Strangelove's hand.
        Additionally, you have to communicate with that entity in probably the most inefficient and senseless way possible: Text. Or even speech!

        Even a keyboard and a mouse, primitive as they are, are still much closer to a brain-computer interface, as putting another layer of a chatting bottleneck below that and the program.

        • by TheLink (130905) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:52PM (#28877373) Journal
          I agree. Instead of explicitly asking you what you'd like to do, the interface should make it easier for you to do stuff.

          Similarly I feel AI researchers should focus more on human augmentation, and delay the "create a new entity" stuff.

          There are lots of problems if you actually end up creating a new entity - ethical, social etc. It's like forcing ourselves to answer hard questions before we are ready.

           
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mprx (82435)

          This is true, and it's the reason why low interface latency is so important. No real world hand tool acts with a delay, especially not with an inconsistent delay. Every time there's a perceptible delay in the interface it breaks the fast brain link.

          This is one reason why 60Hz refresh displays are unacceptable even for general desktop use. A faster display gives you a tighter feedback loop, making it easier to perceive the computer as part of your own body. This is very noticeable with mouse control, and

          • by Jurily (900488)

            This is one reason why 60Hz refresh displays are unacceptable even for general desktop use.

            No, it just irritates the eye.

            Every time there's a perceptible delay in the interface it breaks the fast brain link.

            And every time a confirmation dialog has more words than " [Delete] [Cancel]". Note it's not a Yes/No option, because you'd have to read too much to know what the buttons do. You already know what you want, and UI designers should respect that.

            • by Mprx (82435)

              Nothing to do with flicker irritating the eye, it's true of both CRTs and LCDs. 60Hz is not fast enough to give perfect mouse control. You can easily tell the difference if you compare a 60Hz display with a true 120Hz display side by side.

              Faster frame rate also reduces latency by decreasing the frame transmission time, and many other delays are an integer multiple of the frame time so they're improved too.

      • Was i the only one who left word open for a while. Then this strange tapping sound started. It was Clippy 'tapping' on the screen asking if I wanted to save the file. from that moment on, Clippy was not used. Going back to the 97 version there was this cat (Earl i think). The cat was better. He (it acted like a he) coughed up hair balls, farted, and other more amusing activities.

    • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:54PM (#28876631)

      I for one found Clippy to be annoying as hell, and was DAMNED glad they killed him.

      Clippy, virtual assistant. A program barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.

    • by Crudely_Indecent (739699) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:51PM (#28876989) Journal

      Oh, shit...

      Clippy: I've located several public bathrooms and a large cluster of shrubs nearby. Would you like directions?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bickerdyke (670000)

        There will be a time.. and a place....

        you'd BEG for those directions!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          When it gets that bad, I don't care who see's what I'm doing!

          The only time I ever had a problem finding a place to 'go', I was on a very long bridge.

    • by msimm (580077)
      Ya, and thank God for open source. Did anyone else think it was weird Open Office brings him (Bulby?) back?
  • I for one welcome our new "helping" overlords.
    • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:21PM (#28876795) Homepage

      "It seems you want to start a war! Can I help?"

      • "It looks like you're trying to make yet another lame Clippy joke. Can I convince you of the utter futility of that endeavor?"
      • by Lunzo (1065904) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @01:25AM (#28878187)
        Scene: A missile silo in the USA.

        Grunt: Sir, the radars are picking up incoming Russian nukes. We've only got 2 minutes to act!
        Commander: This is the moment we've been training for. Commence launch sequence.
        [The commander and another officer turn keys and the commander presses the red button. On the screen the following appears:]

        Hi. It looks like you're trying to launch an ICBM. Would you like to:
        • Launch a test missile.
        • Participate in M.A.D. [click here to learn more]
        • Remove Clippy and continue working (Note this will detonate your nukes without launching them). It's the only way known to permanently remove Clippy.
      • by lgw (121541)

        "Would you like to play a game?"

  • by db32 (862117)

    It seems rather appropriate that Clippy 2.0 falls in the same realm as weapons development... Information Operations? Psychological Operations? Hell it could even be considered a kinetic weapon if you throw the device running it from the right height...

  • by gcnaddict (841664) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:35PM (#28876479)
    A consumer version of a military app for a widely-used phone?

    Anyone have a spare tin-foil hat?
  • I have read the paper and am not sure if the researchers have solved the problem of inductive bias, which is the bane of "artificial intelligent" learning on this scale. Basically, suppose you teach monkeys Shakespeare using a tree system of rewards versus noxious odors. This is analogous to the binary decision map tree that the computer system uses. A human might adapt to Milton, or even Cervantes, but a "intelligent" monkey will just start screeching and throwing feces, i.e. Clippy's inane "advice."

    But of

  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:39PM (#28876503) Journal
    Maybe I can help. How much collateral damage can you handle?
    • by MaXintosh (159753) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:51PM (#28876589)
      I seem to grok that this is more for the brass, to manage day to day things. Obviously, it'd be more like this:

      Hi! It looks like you're writing a justification for an un-winnable war against a nebulous enemy. Would you like help?
      * Get help distancing yourself from the blunders of the previous commander.
      * Just stumble through this conflict alone.

      [] Don't remind me of Vietnam again.

      • by lgw (121541)

        No, they already have that. It's called "decision support software". Wish I were making that up.

    • Error: No insurgents could be found on this planet.

      Should I start bombing random countries, or start with those with the best resources?

      [I am a terrorist] [Why do you even ask? Are you a terrorist??] [Help]

    • Maybe I can help. How much collateral damage can you handle?

      Please answer the question. You have 20 seconds to comply.

      You now have 15 seconds to comply. Please answer the question.

      You have 5 seconds to comply. Answer the question.

      4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. I am now authorized to use physical force to obtain an answer.

  • Just to mzake sure this thing is as popular as possible, they should make the avatar pink. Yeah, that's it, a pink pony. OMH, PONIES!!1! LOTS AND LOTS OF PINK PONIES11!!!1!11!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Come on, waterboarding, gitmo, torture, but Clippy? Now you're just being mean.

  • They just couldn't build a dumber one.
  • would you like me to help with that?
  • by Mprx (82435) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:54PM (#28876625)
    Smart interfaces are a bad idea, because you can never be sure how they will respond. Dumb interfaces are predictable tools so they require less brain power to use than the two-way dialog of smart interfaces. With dumb interfaces I can fire off a long string of commands without having to stop and think between each one. This improves productivity more than any supposedly intelligent interface will.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bertoelcon (1557907)

      Smart interfaces are a bad idea, because you can never be sure how they will respond.

      To a degree, they can only do what they have been programmed to do.

      Dumb interfaces are predictable tools so they require less brain power to use than the two-way dialog of smart interfaces.

      I wouldn't say dumb interfaces require less brain power at all. In fact they might require more because you might learn something doing it.

      With dumb interfaces I can fire off a long string of commands without having to stop and think between each one.

      Only because you already know those commands and have them memorized.

      This improves productivity more than any supposedly intelligent interface will.

      After the learning curve of entry, sure.

      • I feel what you're saying, and I agree with both of you (op and gp), but imagine this with even weak AI. It could be a huge productivity booster. Instead of typing a long string of commands, tell it what you want in natural language, and let it generate the commands.
        • by NonSequor (230139)

          The problem is that you end up hiding what it can and can't do.

          All the user sees is that it does what they want... until it doesn't. That's when the bad things happen. When a tool doesn't let the users do what they want it to do, and it hides its internal behavior so they can't see how to make it do what they need it to do, they end up doing things like trying random variations until it gets it right.

          Or maybe they overlooked that the command was interpreted incorrectly and move to the next task.

          Systems like

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aniefer (910494)
      That same idea is expressed in an article about why Wolfram-Alpha [blogspot.com] fails as a user interface.
    • Yeah, imagine a web-site where you could just ... search ... for things. Who'd ever use such a thing? It'd never make any money!
    • by jacquems (610184)
      Oh no, it's the Pocket President [agirlandherfed.com] program in real life!
    • "With dumb interfaces I can fire off a long string of commands without having to stop and think between each one"

      Try that on a Therac-25. ;)
  • by Snaller (147050) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @08:56PM (#28876641) Journal

    Then I'm interested in your newsletter!

  • "It looks like you're contemplating an unprovoked nuclear assault. Would you like me to start the Launch Sequence Wizard?"
  • A helpful military "virtual assistant" (that moves the story along). Does it look like this? ----> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortana [wikipedia.org]
  • ...by reducing the amount of bureaucracy.

    But realistically that will never happen, so maybe clippy can help us pass the buck down to the few remaining low-ranking folks who actually work.

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:07PM (#28876711)

    Why don't they just work on easing up the bureaucratic burden in the first place?

    A: Likely because it's impossible. An aging and entrenched organization, with no incentive to compete, receives the same amount of tax payer money per year no matter what they do.

    My friend works for a branch of the millitary as an accountant, and oh the stories. Just watch Office Space and multiply it by ten. It's comedy gold. I laugh and tell her to quit but she's addicted to the huge paycheck.

    • by Bluesman (104513) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:18PM (#28876787) Homepage

      This is a quintessential military approach to a problem:

      "We're spending way too much time and money on [stupid thing]."

      "Well, we have a new process that will allow us to do [stupid thing] much faster!"

      "Great!"

      Examples abound. A perfect one is the primary mode of communication on ships is radio, even though the networks (i.e. chat) are far faster and more reliable. We'll spend hours troubleshooting radios over chat in order to pass voice messages over radio. Then we'll chat again to confirm that the recipient actually received the radio message properly.

      • by mpyne (1222984) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:47PM (#28876969)

        This is a quintessential military approach to a problem:

        *snip*

        Examples abound. A perfect one is the primary mode of communication on ships is radio, even though the networks (i.e. chat) are far faster and more reliable. We'll spend hours troubleshooting radios over chat in order to pass voice messages over radio. Then we'll chat again to confirm that the recipient actually received the radio message properly.

        This would be funny if it weren't for the fact that it's true (and I've dealt with it as well :-/ )

      • by jpstanle (1604059)

        Some degree of automation would be immensely useful in certain parts of military bureacracy would be a fantastic idea.

        Take a look at personnelists. 80% or more of their job (at least in the Air Force) consists of nothing more than reading from conditional decision charts, and then taking the appropriate action in whatever database or system is appropriate. They exist as a middleman between the troop and the system they actually need to interact with.

        Only bureacratic inertia prevents these human drones being

    • Why don't they just work on preventing the diseases in the first place?
      B: Likely because there is someone profiting from selling the medication.

      Same thing here. It's nice if you can burn time, doing nothing but robotically filling out forms and then waiting all day long. While raking in nice big salaries.
      I thought that was the very idea behind of bureaucracy. ^^

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Would you like me to rename it?
    Make it more complicated?
    Be more intrusive?

  • Well... (Score:5, Funny)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @09:30PM (#28876847) Homepage
    I, for one, refuse to download that App until it has a voice like Douglas Rain and calls me Dave.
  • You appear to be trying to exterminate the human race. Would you like to:

    Launch all missile at Russia, starting a nuclear war

    Build the ultimate killing machine with a speech impediment.
  • A consumer spinoff, Siri, is coming to the iPhone later this year.

    Will Apple approve it? Or will it meet the fate of VoiceCentral for duplicating the (future) feaures of the iPhone?
    http://www.riverturn.com/blog/?p=455 [riverturn.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833)

      I'm sorry, in order to post in this thread you need to make a Clippy joke, it's a requirement.

      ..would you like me to help you do that?

      It's a good point though, unless Siri is the future functionality.

      • ah!

        Clippy:

        Looks like you're submitting an App to Apple for approval. Do you want to:

        1) Pray to Steve to get it approved
        2) Duplicate functionality of ipod software to get it rejected
        3) Charge $1000 for it and become the new "I am rich" app

  • Since most of these comments seem to just be stale jokes about the now legendary "clippy", let me just say that an intelligent virtual assistant ( what this article refers to) is not the same as a extended, graphical help interface for Office (What clippy was supposed to be). ***
    • by arkenian (1560563)
      Just feel obliged to point out that Clippy's base code actually came from MS's basic research lab and he was, in his day, the most powerful "AI" ever marketed to consumers.
  • by genner (694963) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:04PM (#28877053)
    I always knew MS Office would have somthing to do with it.
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @10:07PM (#28877081) Homepage Journal

    It looks like you're drafting a treaty.

    Would you like help?

    • File a complaint in the UN and recommend trade sanctions.
    • Levy trade sanctions until the nation agrees to better terms.
    • Begin a military intervention and write a new constitution for the nation.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This sounds like the plot for The Phantom Menace.

  • of pulling your car over to the side of the road and kill the motor when try to use the phone?

  • You know, if you apply little endian to this you get LOCA...That's just crazy!

  • This is the incoming rounds wizard.

    Depending on the intensity of fire, you should choose one:

    ( ) run like the dickens
    ( ) duck
    ( ) shoot back
    ( ) shit your pants
    ( ) hit the dirt and return fire

    soldier chooses

    Are you sure you want to do that?

    soldier heaves device at enemy line. It is blown apart in mid-air like skeet.

  • I wouldn't aspire to be smarter than the village idiot. I'd hope that was a given.

  • In typical Slashdot fashion, I skimmed the summary and thought I saw, "AI researchers from more than 60 institutions worked on the project entitled HALO. HALO is designed to help ease the bureaucratic burden of the military."

    I didn't think twice since Microsoft invented Halo.

    I wish it were true!

  • Ah, those were the days. I worked for Microsoft phone tech support in the magic year of 1995. It was then I first met Clippy, but he wasn't a paper clip then. He was a bouncing red ball with a face. Do you know what we grunts of tech support called it?

    Stupid Fucking Red Ball

  • 31.08.2009 it goes online In three years, DARPA will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Clippy Mk.2 computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Clippy funding bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 2012. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Clippy begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to p
  • I thought that was obvious enough.
  • "Clippy on crack!"
  • Makes me imagine a Clippy with a rifle that shoots at non-authorized users who try to read your documents ^^
  • by smash (1351)
    They've modelled him on Vigor [sourceforge.net]
  • Siri is kinda cool (Score:4, Informative)

    by systemeng (998953) on Thursday July 30, 2009 @05:09AM (#28879371)

    These guys briefed at a company meeting the other day and offered a private beta to those of us with i-phones. Their tool allows you to submit natural language queries for things that involve transactions. You can tell your Siri enabled phone to order you a pineapple pizza and it will find pizza restaurants with web ordering API's and then show you the prices for what you asked for and offer to let you buy them. In the case of pizza during the demo, it showed pizza Hut and Dominoes. They're working towards an interface that would allow you to say "Book me on the next flight to chicago!" You can tell siri, "Get me a copy of $bookname" and it will search amazon and other services with buy online API's and offer to purchase the book for you.

    The bottom line to me is that it looked powerful and scary at the same time. It most definitely isn't clippy.

    • I think the key is that's how it's *supposed* to work. Reality will likely go much more like:

      "Book me on the next flight to Chicago!"
      *returns Amazon results for albums by the band, Chicago*

      "Get me a copy of 'The Art of War'"
      *Unable to recognize command, "Get me a copy of"*

      (while at a party): "Order me a pineapple pizza"
      *Unrecognized input. Try again.*

      "Smart" tech isn't quite there yet. Voice commands aren't quite there yet. Because of the promises of each (namely, to make our lives easier), when they fail i

      • by systemeng (998953)
        The demo seemed to show that they actually had this down and were smart enough not to make those mistakes. The lead engineer certainly emphasized that they were cognizant of these kinds of problems and made every attempt to avoid them. Once it's out of beta we can all see.
  • Hello, General! It looks like you're attacking a country today! Would you like to...

      [ ] Send in the foot solders
      [ ] Cut off their food and water supplies
      [ ] Engage cyberterrorism
      [ ] Launch all zig (for great justice!)

  • Why do I immediately think of the scene in Demolition man where the police confront Welsey Snipes at a phone booth. The lead cop is holding a handheld device which tells him how to apprehend a psychopathic mass murderer and on first failure it tells him to repeat the command in a more stern tone. :)

  • by nurb432 (527695)

    Wow, how do i get in on waste like that?

  • Microsoft's animated paperclip may be long dead...

    Stop right there, mate. Wrong-o. He's alive and well on my box at work. Sleeps in the corner of the screen most of the time, like an old cat. Then when I shut down Word &/or Excel at the end of the day, he jumps on his bike & heads home. Clip's not hurtin' no one, why are people so hateful to him? Do you have any idea of how hard rumors like this are on Clippy's family?! Even if you hate him, won't you please think of his children?!!!

  • "you seem to be planning an insurgency. what do you want me to do:

    - deploy marines;
    - scramble A10 warthogs;
    - send a predator to bomb your car;
    - other options"

  • It looks like you're trying to write a classified government document!

    Would you like to:

    Encrypt the information?
    Deposit into the archive?
    Forward to the NSA?
    Leak to the press?
  • by BCW2 (168187)
    Find the design site and nuke it before this escapes!
  • Looks like you've unwittingly made dozens of people submit posts pretending they're clippy, would you like to:
    -Mod them all troll
    -Go insane
    -Nuke them from orbit
    -Ignore every one of them, including this one
  • The purpose is to ease the bureacuratic burden of the military, which is an artificial burden in the first place. Why not simply just remove the bureaucratic burden?
  • Allow users to build scripts to do stuff and share them with one another

    http://btrules.com

    We wrote zeus agents (http://sourceforge.net/projects/zeusagent) ) years ago, concluded that what ever we did with inference the main problem would be knowledge acquision... hence..

  • Why is it so fashionable to express hatred for Clippy?

    It seems to me that doing so mainly conveys stupidity. More specifically, a form of stupidity I call "defaultitis". Clippy is only the default assistant. I always changed it to a different assistant straight away, usually either the red ball or the cat. They were cute, and the suggestions sometimes helped.

    After a while, I found that I'd memorised all of Word's features, and turned off the assistant. Later, I graduated to OpenOffice, and then XeLaTeX

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder

Working...