Artificial Intelligence on Your PC Desktop?

Dennis Faas's picture

Whenever the term "artificial intelligence" comes up, it tends to make some people nervous. It reminds them of the wayward computer, HAL, in the movie "2001 Space Odyssey" or cars that tell you in an annoying tone that your door is open. But, little by little, artificial intelligence is creeping into our day-to-day lives.

Soon it will be on your desktop.

A new product called "Smart Desktop" will shortly be released from Seattle-based Pi Corporation. Designed to work with Microsoft Windows, Smart Desktop will aid the user by attempting to "understand" what they are working on and combining all the information for a particular project -- in real time -- into a single view. (Source:

Pi Corporation's Smart Desktop is one of the first spin-offs of the CALO (Cognitive Assistance that Learns and Organizes) project. CALO is a four-year-old project focused on helping computers understand the intentions of users. CALO is a coordinated effort of several large universities and a multitude of private companies.

The artificial intelligence deployed in the Smart Desktop project may not have all that much personality but it is expected to "learn" what is important to a user. Based on what the user is working on, and based on the user's communications, it then will apply this information to locating appropriate files, emails and organizing all the user's work documents together. Hopefully, the intelligence of the product will anticipate the user's needs while saving key-clicks and time.

Pi Corporation's product is probably just the beginning of a wave of new interface technology to come. According to the CALO project mission, the ultimate goal is to develop a Personalized Assistance that Learns (PAL). The criteria for a PAL is that it should "be able to learn from its experience, as well as by being advised. It should be able to explain what it was doing and why it was doing it, and to recover from mental blind alleys. It should be able to reflect on what goes wrong when an anomaly occurs, and anticipate such occurrences in the future..." (Source:

CALO's idea of a PAL is beginning to sound a lot like a HAL (2001 Space Odyssey). "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that" may not be far away. Yikes.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet