Barbara Grosz
Harvard University

Beyond Mice and Menus
Abstract: Widespread use of the Internet has fundamentally changed the computing situation not only for individuals, but also for organizations. Settings in which many people and many computer systems work together, despite being distributed both geographically and in time, dominate individual use. This major shift in the way people use computers has led to a significant challenge for computer science: to construct computer systems that are able to act effectively as collaborative team members.

Teams may consist solely of computer agents, but often include both systems and people. They may persist over long periods of time, form spontaneously for a single group activity, or come together repeatedly. Participation in group activities whether competitive, cooperative, or collaborative — frequently requires decision-making on the part of autonomous-agent systems or the support of decision-making by people.

In this talk, I will briefly review the major features of one model of collaborative planning, SharedPlans (Grosz and Kraus, 1996,1999) and will describe efforts to develop collaborative planning agents and systems for human-computer communication based on this model. The model also provides a framework in which to raise and address fundamental questions about collaboration and the construction of collaboration-capable agents. In this context, I will discuss recent approaches to commitment management and group decision-making.

Biography: Barbara J. Grosz is Higgins Professor of Natural Sciences in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Dean of Science of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Professor Grosz is known for her seminal contributions to the fields of natural-language processing and multi-agent systems. She developed some of the earliest and most influential computer dialogue systems and established the research field of computational modelling of discourse. Her work on models of collaboration helped establish that field of inquiry and provides the framework for several collaborative multi-agent systems and human-computer interface systems.

Professor Grosz is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the ACM, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as the recipient of the UC Berkeley Computer Science and Engineering Distinguished Alumna Award and of awards for distinguished service from major AI societies.

She has been President of the AAAI, a Member and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence, Inc. and on the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association and the International Foundation for Multi-Agent Systems. Before joining the faculty at Harvard, she was Director of the Natural Language program at SRI International and co-founder of the Center for the Study of Language and Information.

Professor Grosz is also widely respected for her contributions to the advancement of women in science. She chaired the Harvard FAS Standing Committee on the Status of Women when it produced the report, Women in Science at Harvard; Part I: Junior Faculty and Graduate Students, February 1991.

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