Why is context-awareness important?

MIThril, a borglab production. Richard W. DeVaul, Jonathan Gips, Michael Sung, Sandy Pentland

Context, AI, the frame problem and you.

Without context, digital applications are deaf and blind; even the most sophisticated PDA knows no more of its context than the time of day. Context, not hard AI, is what is necessary to build applications that are more "intelligent" and less attention hungry. Context allows us to solve the frame problem and build systems that behave less like conventional computers and more like human beings.

The problem

the dangers of proactive context-blind tools

A conventional cell phone is an example of a context-blind application which exhibits behavior that is socially inappropriate and dangerous. The phone can ring at any moment, with consequences that range from the socially embarrassing to life-threatening.

The Solution

context to the rescue

Imagine a phone that would know if the owner is busy in a conversation or driving a car and could change its behavior appropriately. Such an application would behave more like a person and less like a phone.

Context vs. AI

reasoning and the frame problem

Making good decisions is much easier when you understand the situation. Context awareness provides a solution to the "frame" problem, allowing the selection of an appropriate set of axioms to reason with. "Intelligent" behavior often has more to do with simple situational understanding than complex reasoning.

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