Information Agents: Directions and Futures (2001)


February 24, 2020


Eric Horvitz


Microsoft Research


In this internal Microsoft video, produced in 2001 and released publicly in 2020, research scientist Eric Horvitz provides glimpses of a set of research systems developed within Microsoft’s research division between 1998 and 2001. Projects featured in the video include Priorities, Lookout, Notification Platform, DeepListener, and Bestcom. The projects show early uses of machine learning, perception, and reasoning aimed at supporting people in daily tasks and at making progress on longer-term missions of augmenting human intellect. The efforts are thematically related in their pursuit of broader understandings of people and context, including a person’s attention, goals, activities, and location, via multimodal signals, involving the analysis of multiple streams of information. Several of the prototype systems were built within the Attentional User Interface (AUI) project, which had focused on using machine learning and reasoning to understand a computer users’ cognitive load, changing focus of attention, and information needs across multiple devices (NYTimes article, 2000).