Project Halo is an artificial intelligence initiative of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and his investment group, Vulcan Inc.
In this article, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says that "Allen claims success in work on computers that can reason."
The project seeks to develop a so-called Digital Aristotle, named after the Greek philosopher who, in a far simpler day, is said to have known the answer to any question about science.
The project's early phases are limited to hard science. By limiting the amount of knowledge to be encompassed, and confining it to facts, Allen's privately held Vulcan Inc. investment arm stands a better chance of success than did earlier, sweeping AI projects seeking to reduce all human knowledge to computer-readable form, said project manager Noah Friedland.
The project's first, six-month-long phase was a success, he said. Vulcan spent an undisclosed sum bankrolling three teams -- Cycorp Inc. of Austin, Texas, ontoprise GmbH of Karlsruhe, Germany and a team composed of SRI International, Menlo Park, Calif., the University of Texas-Austin, and Boeing Phantom Works -- which competed to render 71 pages of advanced-placement inorganic chemistry into laws and rules a computer can understand.
Then each team developed a language with which to query that knowledge base and formulated 100 questions. The SRI team scored a 3.0 on both its answers and its reasoning. Both other teams scored lower. The average human grade is 2.82.
And what about future applications?
Eventually, the project may result in technology that could, for example, replace the one-third of the work force at Amazon.com handling customer service, he said. It could also have an effect on home schooling and education.
For more information, please visit the Project Halo website. You'll find there the final reports of the four teams of reserchers involved in the project (in PDF format).
Source: Dan Richman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 14, 2003
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