On Tuesday, December 8, 2009, just in time for National Computer Science Education Week, the the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and the Museum of Science, Boston introduced “Grace” and “Ada,” two of the most advanced virtual humans ever created to interact with museum visitors. Programmed to find activities in the Museum’s Cahners ComputerPlace that match visitors’ interests, these artificially intelligent digital twins love to talk about themselves and even have a sense of humor!
A group of fourth-graders from Cambridge’s Graham and Parks Alternative School were the first visitors to meet the museum’s new computer-based interpreters—named fittingly after computer pioneers Grace Hopper and Ada Lovelace. The kids’ mission is to help Museum educators and visiting scientists make the twins even “smarter” than they already are.
In the next year, museum visitors will play a key role in “teaching” Ada and Grace even more. Part of a three-year research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, scientists from ICT working with museum educators, integrated some of the latest research in natural language understanding, artificial intelligence (AI), and computer graphics and animation to program the 19-year-old virtual female twins to move, listen, think, and talk just like real people.