Views of Oxford.
Today I am attending a meeting of the "Governing Council" for a software project called "Companions." These are computer programs that can converse with the user, a branch of artificial intelligence that has interested me for many years. In 1994 I sponsored a project to develop such a program and after three years’ research and development we had a program that won the 1997 Loebner prize competition in New York.
The chief researcher on our team was Yorick Wilks, a larger-than-life computer science professor at Sheffield University who has long been one of the world leaders in natural language processing (conversation, translation, etc.). Yorick is the Project Co-ordinator for the Companions project, which is funded by the European Union, and any event at which he is in charge is very much an uplifting experience ? intellectually satisfying and great fun.
Rather than attempt to describe the Companions project myself, here is a link to the Companions web site. Enjoy!