Michael Loren Mauldin or “Fuzzy” as he prefers to be called, is an interesting character with interests ranging from chatbots to battlebots. The history of computer science and artificial intelligence is saturated with fascinating people that helped the field of artificial intelligence grow and develop as a unique and distinct study. The areas of study under Artificial Intelligence are diverse as well.
One of the often discussed topics under artificial intelligence is natural language processing. Developing a computer that can understand, respond to, and communicate with human language has been computer scientists’ goal.
In this article, we shall discuss the life and career of a computer scientist who contributed to the field of artificial intelligence and natural language processing, Michael Mauldin.
Early Life And Studies
Michael Loren Mauldin was born on the 23rd of March 1959 in Dallas, Texas. His parents were Jimmie Alton Mauldin and Marilyn Jean Taylor. Mauldin received a bachelor’s degree from Rice University in 1981.
In 1983, Mauldin received a master’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and in 1989, Michael Mauldin received his Ph.D. from the same university. Michael Loren Mauldin’s Ph.D. advisor was the pioneer in computer science, Jaime Carbonell.
Jaime Carbonell’s work also consisted of making contributions toward the development of natural language processing. Jaime Carbonell joined Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in 1979 and worked as an assistant professor.
Career And Research
Michael Fuzzy Mauldin’s contributions toward computer science and artificial intelligence programs are many. But perhaps his most significant contribution to computer science is the invention of Lycos – a web search engine. Mauldin invented Lycos while working on the Informedia Digital Library project.
Work On The Informedia Digital Library Project
The informedia Digital Library Project is an ongoing research program to build search engines and information visualization technologies at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The Informedia Digital Library Project has carried out research programs on Spoken Document Retrieval, Video Segmentation, Video Information Retrieval, facial recognition, and Cross-language information retrieval.
Howard Wactlar, a research professor, leads this program. Michael Loren Mauldin joined this program in 1994. Along with Michael Mauldin, Michael Christel, Alex Hauptmann, Michael Witbrock, Takeo Kanade, Raj Reddy, and Scott Stevens have also worked on this project as researchers.
In 1994, when Michael Loren Mauldin worked as a researcher in CMU on their Informedia project, invented Lycos from 3 pages of code. Lycos is a web search engine and a web portal. The Lycos engine also encompasses web hosting, email networks, social networking, and entertainment sites.
Lycos company is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, United States. Michael Mauldin then sold his company’s 80% portion to CGMI for $2 million of venture capital funding. After becoming the new CEO of the company, Bob Davis focused on building Lycos Inc. into an advertisement-supported web portal.
Lycos holds the achievement of being the first-ever search engine to go public, even before its rivals, Excite and Yahoo. Lycon was the fastest company ever to become a public company via an initial public offering in 1996 in NASDAQ history.
It also became the world’s first profitable internet business in the world in 1997. Lycos acquired Tripod, a web hosting service, in 1998 for $58 million to further establish its hegemony in the web portal market.
Lycos grew significantly for several years during the 1990s and soon became the most visited web portal of the world in 1999, having a global presence in more than 40 countries. Today, Lycos includes Angelfire, InsiderInfo, Tripod.com, Weather Zombie, and WhoWhere.com as web hosting services.
Work With Conversive
Michael Loren Mauldin then quit Lycos in 1997 to co-found Conversive, a company specializing in automated conversation technologies, with Peter Plantec, a writer, digital artist, and computer designer.
Conversive was an artificial intelligence software company and focused on creating computer-generated human characters with the ability to self-animate themselves. Michael Loren Mauldin remained as part of the board of directors team on Conversive until the company was acquired by Avaya – an American multinational technology company in 2013.
Conversive Inc. today offers Customer service automation solutions for all companies of varying sizes. The conversive products include an Instant Agent: a text-based Natural language processing bot, Answer Agent: a bot with animated characteristics such as an artificial voice, College Agent, Easy Agent, and a Library Agent.
Along with his other works, Michael Loren Mauldin is one of the authors of Rog-O-Matic and Julia bots. The chatbot Julia also participated in the Turing test based annual prize show, The Loebner Prize.
Rog-O-Matic was developed by four graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University in 1981; those students included Guy Jacobson, Leonard Hamey, Andrew Appel, and Michael Loren Mauldin.
Rog-O-Matic was developed to play and win a popular computer game, Rogue. Rogue is a very popular dungeon-crawling video game. Experts described Rog-O-Matic as a “belligerent expert system.”
Rog-O-Matic performed exceptionally well when it was pitted against the expert Rogue players; many times, it even won the game. Three weeks test was taken in 1983. It was found that Rig-O-Matic achieved a higher median score than any of the top 15 human Rogue players at the Carnegie Mellon University.
Rig-O-Matic has been the subject of significant scholarly interest; a 2005 paper described the bot as very different from traditional expert systems since it can work within a dynamic environment.
Rig-O-Matic adequately responds to the change of terrain and adversaries in each level. The bot was designed to work its way through limited information and obstacles. The bot can record and integrate information about the environment once it discovers it.
In 1994, Michael Loren Mauldin developed the chatbot, Julia. Julia would then go on to participate in the annual Loebner prize competition. Julia was ranked third of the three competitors in the Loebner Prize.
Hugh Loebner, an American inventor in 1990, launched the Loebner prize competition. The Loebner Prize is based on the Turing test, and it involves judges holding conversations with chatbots and humans.
The chatbot that tricks the judge into thinking that they are talking to a human wins the Turing test. The brilliant mathematician and computer scientist Alan Matthews Turing first proposed the Turing Test in 1950.
Julia has been active on the internet since 1989. Julia’s purpose was to explore the virtual world that was consisted of pages of textual descriptions, links between the pages and to come up with an internal map of the virtual world and respond to the questions regarding that virtual world.
It was Julia’s abilities that inspired Michael Loren Mauldin to work on and develop Lycos.
The Basis For Verbot – The Chatbot Program
Verbot was a Chatterbot program for Windows and the web. Verbot’s technology owes its basis to the work of Michael Loren Mauldin and Peter Plantec. It all began in 1978 when Michael Mauldin was attending Rice University.
The idea behind ELIZA, the chatbot program, fascinated him. ELIZA was the first-ever chatbot and was invented by German American Computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum in 1964 when working in MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratories.
Michael Mauldin created the chatbot program PET that worked through a simple induction to post new information. Meanwhile, Peter Plantec was designing a personality for the ENTITY. The concept of ENTITY was to develop a theoretical human that can interact with other humans.
However, at that time, technology was not advanced enough to realize an ENTITY. Michael Mauldin and Peter Plantec then collaborated and created Virtual Personalities Inc.; a company later renamed Conversive Inc.
Many bots were released as a part of verbots, such as the aforementioned Rog-O-Matic, Julia, Sylvie, and TinyMud. Verbots released their latest version of Verbot, Verbot 22.214.171.124, in 2012. However, in 2012, Verbots was completely shut down.
Participation In Robot Combat
Michael Loren Mauldin watched episodes of BattleBot in 2000 and became fascinated with robot combat. BattleBots is an American robot combat television series. Participants design remote-controlled armored machines that fight in an elimination-based arena combat tournament.
Mauldin designed his fighting robot and became a successful participant in robot combat. At BattleBots, Michael Mauldin is the owner of Team Toad. Team toad is a very successful team that has designed robots that have competed both in and outside of BattleBots.
Some notable robots created by Michael Mauldin and Team Toad are Hypothermia, Texas Twister, Polar Vortex, Frostbite, and snowflake. Michael Mauldin also appeared on Robot Wars’ tenth season with his horizontal spinner Cathadth as a team captain for the Team Rest.
Michael Mauldin retired in 2000. He is the inventor or co-inventor of four patents. As a retired computer scientist, Michael Mauldin frequently takes part in the robot combat shows such as BattleBot.
Michael Mauldin is no doubt one of the best computer scientists and inventors of today.
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