Computing That Serves

AI in the Middle: Mediating between Author and Reader


Thursday, March 9, 2006 - 10:00am


Peter Norvig, Director of Machine Learning, Search Quality and Research, Google

The system of publishing the written word has made more knowledge available to more people than any other technology. No other system comes within a factor of a million. Now that a good portion of this written material is available online, it can be processed by computer. But the written word is notoriously imprecise and ambiguous, so currently the best way to make use of it is to leverage the intelligence and language understanding ability of author and reader, and relegate the computer to the more modest role of connecting the two. Even this modest role still leaves a number of challenges in computer science, computational linguistics, and artificial intelligence, which will be discussed.


Peter Norvig has been at Google Inc. since 2001 as the Director of Machine Learning, Search Quality, and Research. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and co-author of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, the leading textbook in the field. Previously he was the senior computer scientist at NASA and head of the 200-person Computational Sciences Division at Ames Research Center. Before that he was Chief Scientist at Junglee, Chief designer at Harlequin Inc, and Senior Scientist at Sun Microsystems Laboratories. Dr. Norvig received a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley. He has been a Professor at the University of Southern California and a Research Faculty Member at Berkeley. He has over fifty publications in various areas of Computer Science, concentrating on Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing and Software Engineering, including the books Paradigms of AI Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp, Verbmobil: A Translation System for Face-to-Face Dialog, and Intelligent Help Systems for UNIX.