In this video, Robert and Charles drop in on Eric Horvitz at Microsoft Research. It’s always great to get an update on things he’s been up to.
This time, we focus on technologies aimed at making it easier for people to communicate with each other, but we have a freewheeling discussion.
We hear about research on the Bestcom project. Bestcom is short for “best-means communication”. With Bestcom, smart computer agents try to figure out the context of people and decide how best to hook them up… based their own preferences and situations.
Eric shows us a prototype named Bestcom-ET which has been used by many people inside Microsoft. This prototype led to the Communicator product.
Eric also talks about Bayesphone, a really smart smartphone—and he also shows us some of the output of the Coordinate prototype. Coordinate does “presence and availability forecasting”. Coordinate uses machine learning to make forecasts about things like when someone will next be in their office, when they will next read email, and next be free for some time to chat. Sounds eerie…but not to worry—people have nice privacy controls to decide which people (or agents) they want to share these kinds of forecasts with.