Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Editorial Pointers

  1. Article

The familiar interfaces that have allowed humans and computers to communicate are being transformed before our eyes. The era of pointing, clicking, or typing is giving way to new seamless, intuitive links between the two worlds.

This issue presents two very different special sections with one common anthem: It’s clear we’ve reached a turning point in the way we interact with computers. We begin with the latest in the perceptive, multimodal, and multimedia interfaces that make up "Perceptual User Interfaces." In this section, you’ll learn of clothes that recognize acquaintances, computers controlled by facial or hand gestures, chairs that adjust to individual bodies, machines that can sense the users’ moods, and rooms that metamorphose to users’ needs. Guest editors Matthew Turk and George Robertson, from Microsoft Research, asked some of most innovative leaders in the field to discuss their latest creations and the interfaces that make them possible. Their stories and accompanying images depict computing systems that will be thinking, evolving, ubiquitous complements to our lives and livelihoods.

Computers can also be made to program for us by learning from us, as you’ll see in the section "Programming by Example." PBE represents a revolutionary departure from programming as we know it, contends guest editor Henry Lieberman, from MIT, and the articles here certainly attest to that claim. You’ll be introduced to two innovative systems designed for an instrumental part of the audience that inspired the PBE movement—children. The noted authors in this section also provide further examples of working PBE systems as well as examine user requirements while sorting out the field’s future directions.

In other news, our featured columns focus on a worldly array of industry issues and challenges. Robert Glass ("Practical Programmer") and Peter Neumann ("Inside Risks") reflect on lessons learned from our Y2K endeavors. Their perspectives come from two different angles, yet they echo the same question: Was all the fuss really necessary?

In "Sharing Standards," Rada and Ketchell inspect the latest efforts to streamline Europe’s standards process. In "Thinking Objectively," Fayad, Laitinen, and Ward detail the importance of software engineering in the small, an oftentimes overlooked area in literature and practice. Barbara Simons wonders how Net-based businesses will survive various efforts to apply trademark law to domain names in her latest installment of "From the President."

Diane Crawford, Editor

COMING NEXT MONTH:A special section on Enterprise Resource Planning systems that integrate a wide range of business functions. The issue will also feature articles on intrusion detection systems, embodied conversational interface agents, telecommunications, and the ethics of safety-critical systems.

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