AI Heston Blumenthal, Dora, Alice and fly by ear

This year's BCS Machine Intelligence Prize entries show how cool IT can be.

The first one you've probably heard of, it's been around a while…

Description of system: A.L.I.C.E.
The ALICE bot is an AI natural language chat program designed to play Turing's Imitation Game. Like the computer in the game as Turing imagined it, the computer plays the role of the lying man. ALICE is a computer, pretending to be a man, pretending to be a woman, pretending to be a computer. http://alice.pandorabots.com/

I had a chat with Pandora – where originally she mistake the BCS Prize for the Loebner... I persevered:

ALICE: Ah, The BCS Machine Intelligence Prize.
Human: Yes, how do you feel about it?
ALICE: Thanks for the info. "It" refers to The Loebner Prize, I think.
Human: No - the BCS prize
ALICE: Are you serious? Tell me more.
Human: I already said - you've been nominated for the BCS Machine Intelligence Prize
ALICE: What did you mean by it? Thanks for telling me that I am nominated for the BCS Machine Intelligence Prize.
Human: You got it - well done
ALICE: No I don't have it. But I do have a collection of gossip.

Mmm.

Anyway, next nominee, an AI Heston Blumenthal.

Name of System: Taaable
Description of system: Taaable is a web-based cooking application making use of case-based reasoning (CBR). You want to cook a pear pie? Just ask Taaable and it will provide you with a creative pear pie recipe: as Taaable does not have any pear pie recipe in its recipe book, it will adapt an apple pie recipe in order to satisfy your request. Taaable also improves itself by learning new adaptation knowledge with time, through interactions with its users. Thanks to this
additional knowledge, it is able to solve more and more cooking problems. http://taaable.fr/

And the website even caters (see what I did there?) for alternative eating habits: Vegetarian, nut-free, no alcohol (I suppose there must be some call...), low cholesterol and 'the gout diet'.

Moving on.

Name of System: Dora the Explorer, a robot motivated by curiosity
Description of system: Dora the Explorer is a mobile robot with a sense of curiosity and a drive to explore its world. Given an incomplete tour of an indoor environment, Dora is driven by internal motivations to probe the gaps in her spatial knowledge. She will actively explore regions of space which she hasn't previously visited but which she expects will lead her to further unexplored space. She will also attempt to determine the categories of rooms through active visual
search for functionally important objects, and through ontology-driven inference on the results of this search. http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~nah

And finally:

Name of System: Fly by Ear
Description of system: Hearing is an invaluable sense for humans and has been greatly under-explored in the fields of AI and robotics. We show how communication and the sense of hearing can vastly improve the intelligent behaviour of an autonomous indoor helicopter. The audience will see the autonomous helicopter fly and manoeuvre onstage while a supervising machine reads its intrinsic sound, extracts a variety of valuable information and feeds it back to
the helicopter to enhance its stability and flight path. This novel use of artificial hearing presents an important advance in control, robotics, and machine intelligence.

I leave you readers to suggest where these innovations might lead – particularly if we can mash them all up…

The winner is announced on December 16 – so look out for more info then.

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About the author

Brian is Head of Content at BCS and blogs about the Institute’s role in making IT good for society, historical developments in computing, the implications of CS research and more.

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