INFOBOT Grand Challenge

To create an Info-Bot that is capable of understanding and operating any interface or information that is understandable by the 50th percentile human. 

This means that if 50% of the population can understand the page – then the Info-Bot would be able to understand the page. 

Implications to accessibility

  • Such an Info-Bot would be the universal assistive technology back end (the half that interfaces with mainstream info/devices).  It could handle any interface that half of the population can handle  –except for exceptionally poorly designed interfaces (or very specialized interfaces that most people cannot handle)   It could then re-present that interface in any form needed by individuals with a disability – or pass it on to special AT that can. 
  • Assistive technology vendors would then focus on providing the best interface to users with different special disabilities instead of spending time trying to keep interfacing with all the different mainstream technologies.
  • Many (most) disabilities (that require fairly standard modifications) would be handled directly by the different Info-Bot output formats. 
    • captioning
    • enlarging
    • basic simplification methods
    • screen reading 
    • alternate physical controls
    • verbal (typed or spoken)  query and control 
  • Literacy and language barriers would be directly handled
    • if it can understand – it can translate or present it in a form the person can understand

Implications to Society

  • Economically, it can greatly reduce  (and for some things eliminate) the need for mainstream manufacturers to keep building alternate access into their products – especially for more severe disabilities. 
    • The cost to add accessibility may only be a percent or so — and a small price to pay for equal access.  
    • But if we can achieve equal access another way — and save 1% of the GNP or product development costs or any such number — will save much more than what it takes to do this if it costs a few hundred million to do.
    • or if we can delay the time when elders need to move into institutional care by even a few months –  
    • or …
  • Industrially, the advances it would require would open up all sorts of new types of products and services and potentials. 
  • It can reduce the need to be compatible with many assistive technologies to the ability to be understood by the Info-Bot.  
    • And the Info-Bot can steadily improve as well
  • Socially, it can provide a way to close the digital and other divides in a more affordable and potentially effective manner
    • by combining the capability with other mainstream desirable features (like information capture and storage — or getting additional or related information  — or remote control) any stigma from using the device – or network service would be removed. 

Implications for Science

  • Like landing on the moon – and even military weapons development — such a targeted activity will require and cause advances in a wide range of sciences
    • Machine vision and image interpretation
    • Speech recognition
    • Language comprehension by machines
    • etc
  • It can be a focus to attract and engage new scientists that have talents in these fields but interested in human condition rather than military or space or industrial applications
  • It provides a PRACTICAL OPERATIONAL FOCUS that can advance areas of research — can cause leaps — that won’t happen with just continual funding of basic research.
    • just as basic research can yield results that one would never expect – and allow new practical advances one would never have thought to try to develop,  these practical use grand challenges can inspire new approaches that basic research would not lead one to. 
  • It is a different “Grand challenge” that can complement the others but focus on different areas — or similar areas from a different perspective — yielding new or faster progress. 

Practicality – Achievability 

  • If it can be done — then it will be done primarily with computing — which means its cost, size, and portability will constantly decrease – making it possible to provide (affordably) to everyone.
  • If physical operation of controls is not required (an electronic – even ‘web’ -interface is provided) then there is no physical device required.  The service could exist in the cloud for any connected device.  and it could exist in a phone sized device for non-internet connected devices. 
  • Over time – it can increase to be able to handle harder and harder interfaces (interfaces that can be understood by only 25 or 15% of the population) 
  • By separating the CONTENT of the site from the OPERATION of the site — this can be achieved much sooner. 
    • that is, the operation of a site on quantum physics  can be understood and represented long before the contents can. 
    • The 50% mark was set to eliminate sites that are of advanced topics the half or more of the population cannot understand.