Steps to AI?

The greatly anticipated “AI” project recently unveiled, Wolfram Alpha, appears to have flopped, at least insofar as being an AI. Next up looks to be Siri, an app coming to your iPhone this fall.

From the San Jose Mercury:

Siri, a San Jose company, announced Wednesday that it would offer an “intelligent agent” for Apple’s iPhone that would, the company said, be able to find movie theaters, book restaurant reservations and airline flights, buy from online retail sites and even answer trivia questions like “How many calories are in a banana,” all by understanding spoken commands.

Siri is much more than just an integrator of Web services. Indeed, it’s the culmination of one of the government’s largest artificial-intelligence projects.
In 2003, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is most famous for sponsoring the research that led to the development of the Internet, awarded SRI International the first of several grants to develop CALO, a Cognitive Agent that Learns and Observes.
Over the next five years, DARPA invested $150 million in the project, said Winarsky, who is a vice president at SRI International. Hundreds of computer scientists and nearly three dozen universities and corporate research centers worked on parts of the CALO problem.
“I think we are going to surprise a lot of people with what’s possible now,” Kittlaus said.

To me, Siri looks like what is just possible at the current state of the art, and I wish them well.

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