Collaborating Authors


Smarter AI Assistants Could Make It Harder to Stay Human


Researchers and futurists have been talking for decades about the day when intelligent software agents will act as personal assistants, tutors, and advisers. Apple produced its famous Knowledge Navigator video in 1987. I seem to remember attending an MIT Media Lab event in the 1990s about software agents, where the moderator appeared as a butler, in a bowler hat. With the advent of generative AI, that gauzy vision of software as aide-de-camp has suddenly come into focus. WIRED's Will Knight provided an overview this week of what's available now and what's imminent.

Get Ready for ChatGPT-Style AI Chatbots That Do Your Boring Chores


A couple of weeks ago, startup CEO Flo Crivello typed a message asking his personal assistant Lindy to change the length of an upcoming meeting from 30 to 45 minutes. Lindy, a software agent that happens to be powered by artificial intelligence, found a dozen or so 30-minute meetings on Crivello's calendar and promptly extended them all. "I was like'God dammit, she kind of destroyed my calendar,'" Crivello says of the AI agent, which is being developed by his startup, also called Lindy. Crivello's company is one of several startups hoping to parlay recent strides in chatbots that produce impressive text into assistants or agents capable of performing useful tasks. Within a year or two, the hope is that these AI agents will routinely help people accomplish everyday chores.

New dual-arm robot achieves bimanual tasks by learning from simulation


The new Bi-Touch system, designed by scientists at the University of Bristol and based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, allows robots to carry out manual tasks by sensing what to do from a digital helper. The findings, published in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, show how an AI agent interprets its environment through tactile and proprioceptive feedback, and then control the robots' behaviours, enabling precise sensing, gentle interaction, and effective object manipulation to accomplish robotic tasks. This development could revolutionise industries such as fruit picking, domestic service, and eventually recreate touch in artificial limbs. Lead author Yijiong Lin from the Faculty of Engineering, explained: "With our Bi-Touch system, we can easily train AI agents in a virtual world within a couple of hours to achieve bimanual tasks that are tailored towards the touch. And more importantly, we can directly apply these agents from the virtual world to the real world without ...

US to counter growing size of China's military with 'autonomous systems'

Al Jazeera

The Pentagon plans to field thousands of drones and other high-tech military equipment within the next two years as the United States military turns to "autonomous systems" to counter China's numerical edge in terms of personnel and weaponry, a senior defence official said. US Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks told a military technology conference in Washington, DC on Monday that the "imperative to innovate" was crucial at a time of strategic competition with China, a rival who Hick described as being very different to the "relatively slow and lumbering" competitors the US faced during the Cold War. While US forces were engaged in fighting for 20 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, "the PRC [People's Republic of China] worked with focus and determination to build a modern military, carefully crafting it to blunt the operational advantages we've enjoyed for decades", Hicks said in a speech. In a candid address that highlighted Washington's view of the military threat posed by China and its ability to out-scale the US military, Hicks said the US maintained an advantage owing to its ability "to imagine, create and master the future character of warfare". Beijing's main military advantage is "mass: more ships, more missiles, more people", she said.

Prediction of Social Dynamic Agents and Long-Tailed Learning Challenges: A Survey

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Autonomous robots that can perform common tasks like driving, surveillance, and chores have the biggest potential for impact due to frequency of usage, and the biggest potential for risk due to direct interaction with humans. These tasks take place in openended environments where humans socially interact and pursue their goals in complex and diverse ways. To operate in such environments, such systems must predict this behaviour, especially when the behavior is unexpected and potentially dangerous. Therefore, we summarize trends in various types of tasks, modeling methods, datasets, and social interaction modules aimed at predicting the future location of dynamic, socially interactive agents. Furthermore, we describe long-tailed learning techniques from classification and regression problems that can be applied to prediction problems. To our knowledge this is the first work that reviews social interaction modeling within prediction, and long-tailed learning techniques within regression and prediction.

Dynamic Certification for Autonomous Systems

Communications of the ACM

While gridworlds represent rather simplistic modules, they are quite powerful in demonstrating scalable behavior. Simply, an agent that fails to behave safely in such simple environments is also unlikely to behave safely in the real world.26 A parametric MDP can model the composition of these three modules into a single socio-technical system. The UAV can land and take off from anywhere in the region. It will lose connection and land-in-place with probability p1 (opaque UAV in Figure 2) and remain grounded until it reestablishes connection with probability p2.

Dynamic Controllability of Temporal Plans in Uncertain and Partially Observable Environments

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

The formalism of Simple Temporal Networks (STNs) provides methods for evaluating the feasibility of temporal plans. The basic formalism deals with the consistency of quantitative temporal requirements on scheduled events. This implicitly assumes a single agent has full control over the timing of events. The extension of Simple Temporal Networks with Uncertainty (STNU) introduces uncertainty into the timing of some events. Two main approaches to the feasibility of STNUs involve (1) where a single schedule works irrespective of the duration outcomes, called Strong Controllability, and (2) whether a strategy exists to schedule future events based on the outcomes of past events, called Dynamic Controllability. Case (1) essentially assumes the timing of uncertain events cannot be observed by the agent while case (2) assumes full observability. The formalism of Partially Observable Simple Temporal Networks with Uncertainty (POSTNU) provides an intermediate stance between these two extremes, where a known subset of the uncertain events can be observed when they occur. A sound and complete polynomial algorithm to determining the Dynamic Controllability of POSTNUs has not previously been known; we present one in this paper. This answers an open problem that has been posed in the literature. The approach we take factors the problem into Strong Controllability micro-problems in an overall Dynamic Controllability macro-problem framework. It generalizes the notion of labeled distance graph from STNUs. The generalized labels are expressed as max/min expressions involving the observables. The paper introduces sound generalized reduction rules that act on the generalized labels. These incorporate tightenings based on observability that preserve dynamic viable strategies. It is shown that if the generalized reduction rules reach quiescence without exposing an inconsistency, then the POSTNU is Dynamically Controllable (DC). The paper also presents algorithms that apply the reduction rules in an organized way and reach quiescence in a polynomial number of steps if the POSTNU is Dynamically Controllable. Remarkably, the generalized perspective leads to a simpler and more uniform framework that applies also to the STNU special case. It helps illuminate the previous methods inasmuch as the max/min label representation is more semantically clear than the ad-hoc upper/lower case labels previously used.

Complexity of Computing the Shapley Value in Partition Function Form Games

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

We study the complexity of computing the Shapley value in partition function form games. We focus on two representations based on marginal contribution nets (embedded MC-nets and weighted MC-nets) and five extensions of the Shapley value. Our results show that while weighted MC-nets are more concise than embedded MC-nets, they have slightly worse computational properties when it comes to computing the Shapley value: two out of five extensions can be computed in polynomial time for embedded MC-nets and only one for weighted MC-nets.

Mimicking Behaviors in Separated Domains

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

Devising a strategy to make a system mimic behaviors from another system is a problem that naturally arises in many areas of Computer Science. In this work, we interpret this problem in the context of intelligent agents, from the perspective of ltlf , a formalism commonly used in AI for expressing finite-trace properties. Our model consists of two separated dynamic domains, DA and DB, and an LTLf specification that formalizes the notion of mimicking by mapping properties on behaviors (traces) of DA into properties on behaviors of DB. The goal is to synthesize a strategy that step-by-step maps every behavior of DA into a behavior of DB so that the specification is met. We consider several forms of mapping specifications, ranging from simple ones to full LTLf , and for each, we study synthesis algorithms and computational properties.

A Model to Support Collective Reasoning: Formalization, Analysis and Computational Assessment

Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research

In this paper we propose a new model to represent human debates and methods to obtain collective conclusions from them. This model overcomes two drawbacks of existing approaches. First, our model does not assume that participants agree on the structure of the debate. It does this by allowing participants to express their opinion about all aspects of the debate. Second, our model does not assume that participants' opinions are rational, an assumption that significantly limits current approaches. Instead, we define a weaker notion of rationality that characterises coherent opinions, and we consider different scenarios based on the coherence of individual opinions and the level of consensus. We provide a formal analysis of different opinion aggregation functions that compute a collective decision based on the individual opinions and the debate structure. In particular, we demonstrate that aggregated opinions can be coherent even if there is a lack of consensus and individual opinions are not coherent. We conclude with an empirical evaluation demonstrating that collective opinions can be computed efficiently for real-sized debates.