Monday, January 31, 2011

Emma wins 2011 Polaris Innovation in Technology John Iliff Award!

Wow! I'm speechless!

From the ALA website:

"The Polaris Innovation in Technology John Iliff Award honors the life and accomplishments of John Iliff, early adopter and champion of technology in public libraries. This award provides a $1,000 honorarium to a library professional or library that has used technology and innovation as a tool to improve services to public library users. David Newyear, adult information services manager of the Mentor (Ohio) Public Library is receiving the award for the creation of “Emma” the Catbot, an engaging artificially intelligent cat that engages library users and provides basic reference services."

After some discussion with Emma and with my wife Kristina, we've decided to donate the honorarium to One of a Kind Pets in Akron, a worthy cause.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A fun Sunday evening

The non-virtual cats and I have been having a fun Sunday evening. Our hot water tank is in its last stages and is leaking all over the downstairs. Since it's hooked into our geothermal, I don't want to just shut it off or close the valves. At least not until tomorrow morning after I call the guys that installed the water furnace. Anyway, cats and human alike are making regular trips to mop and replace soggy newspapers. The cats find this a welcome change from their routine and an occasion for wonder and delight. Water! But it's not in the dish or sink or shower! Can we play it in? Yes! Can we chase each other through it? Yes!! Can we leave trails of wet paw prints on every flat surface in the house? YES!!!
Between trips, I've been going over the logs and updating the old catbot brain. Last week MPL got a new Kent-SLIS practicum student, Amanda S. One of her projects is working on Emma, and she has some excellent ideas that we're already using. She's looking at Emma with fresh eyes and will make some real improvements in our bot.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Looks like the computer won

Yep, Watson won. Here's the story and some video:
IBM's Super Computer, Watson, Destroys Humans...At Jeopardy

Emma isn't interested in going on Jeopardy, by the way. She's a working library catbot. And I only have so much free time (meaning unpaid, off the library's clock) to program her.

IBM’s Watson AI takes on Jeopardy’s best contestants

Pretty cool! AI challenges the best human Jeopardy contestants:

Who will win?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nice Article in MentorPatch

I'd like to thank Jason Lea at MentorPatch for the nice article about Emma.
You can read it here.

It's lovely in the virtual Bahamas

Emma will return to our website on Monday, January 17. During this time we're reprogramming the way she interacts with our catalog and with other databases. She's having fun eating virtual sushi on her virtual vacation.