Wouldn't it be nice if you could speak to your computer in plain English and ask it for information? Wouldn't it be even nicer if it actually understood you! This happens in science fiction films, but what progress is being made towards making it come true?
In conjunction with the 2003 Loebner Prize Contest, on the morning of Saturday 18 October there was a colloquium, Bots Mean Business, aimed at introducing the local business community to the capabilities and benefits of chatterbots ("talking computers") and related natural language technology. A variety of speakers addressed the local high-technology business community and other interested parties at the University of Surrey's Nodus Building.
The event was opened by University Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Gilbert, who was followed by a series of invited speakers, all experts in their fields. After each speaker had made a 20 minute presentation, there was a panel discussion giving an opportunity for the audience to ask questions. The aim was to focus on the realities of current technology and future developments, with an emphasis on their potential benefits to private and public sector organisations.
Lynne Hamill, Executive Director of the Digital World Research Centre, said:
"Bots Mean Business demonstrates how we could all relate to technology in the future. At present, people are struggling to cope in the digital world. But friendly computer interfaces that speak everyday English will help bridge the digital divide and bring real business benefits to organisations far-sighted enough to adopt the new technologies."
For details of the event, please email Jayne Martin: