About the Project
This exhibit area within Cahners ComputerPlace at the Museum of Science showcases the field of artificial intelligence in the form of virtual Museum guides Ada and Grace — and Coach Mike. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project is a collaboration between the Museum and the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) at the University of Southern California.
Ada and Grace
Named for Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper, these virtual human twins who can talk to visitors and respond to their questions. This exciting new technology is the result of years of research into human behavior and communication. In addition, it represents a technological achievement in creating an interactive agent that moves and talks like a real person. Visitors to the Museum continue this development; their participation in the exhibit can help Ada and Grace learn more about how real people communicate. Visitors to this website also play a key role in the Living Laboratory section by suggesting and participating in experiments that can inform the process of improving how the twins function.
In Cahners ComputerPlace's tangible programming exhiibt known as "Robot Park," Museum staff observed that visitors who had the help of Museum volunteers tended to stay longer and do more programming. ICT researchers used this feedback to build Coach Mike to simulate some of these interactions. During a visitor's experience with "Robot Park," volunteers often suggest problems and give hints to help them along. Thus, Coach Mike has some of this same knowledge and is willing to deliver it to visitors when they want it. Coach Mike is not as smart as the volunteers, of course, but he can help by delivering some of the basic support and guidance visitors often need.