Computer Science Profile Scott Fahlman





Scott Fahlman is a Research Professor in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science who is primarily interested in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its applications. He has worked in many areas of AI: planning, knowledge representation, image processing, natural language, document classification and processing, artificial neural networks, and the use of massively parallel machines to solve AI problems.


But, more importantly, he invented the emoticon!


In the early 1980’s, members of Carnegie Mellon’s computer science community tended to be frequent users of online bulletin boards. (Sort of a precursor to today’s social media.) Because tone can be hard to convey in writing, it was often difficult for users to tell when a comment was intended to be sarcastic. This often led to jokes being taken seriously, which could have negative consequences.


To help prevent these problems from happening, Fahlman thought it would be a good idea to explicitly mark posts that were either jokes or sarcasm. He proposed using : - ) as a way to help people distinguish serious posts from jokes. The smiley caught on and is now a staple of our communication.



First use of emoticon



But Fahlman’s career is much more extensive than the emoticon. He is currently working on Scone, a practical system that can represent a large body of real-world knowledge and that can efficiently perform the kinds of search and inference that seem so effortless for humans. Fahlman thinks that “knowledge base” systems like this will be important tools in the future, perhaps used in even more ways than database systems are used today.




Posted on December 12, 2015 in Announcements by LeeAnn Baronett : 0 Comments

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