Adding Semantic Web Knowledge to Intelligent Personal Assistant Agents

Piedad Garrido1 , Francisco J. Martinez1 , and Christian Guetl2
University of Zaragoza, Spain {piedad, f.martinez} Graz University of Technology, Austria, and Curtin University of Technology, Australia


Abstract. Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) agents are software agents which assist users in performing specific tasks. They should be able to communicate, cooperate, discuss, and guide people. This paper presents a proposal to add Semantic Web Knowledge to IPA agents. In our solution, the IPA agent has a modular knowledge organization composed by four differentiated areas: (i) the rational area, which adds semantic web knowledge, (ii) the association area, which simplifies building appropriate responses, (iii) the commonsense area, which provides commonsense responses, and (iv) the behavioral area, which allows IPA agents to show empathy. Our main objective is to create more intelligent and more human alike IPA agents, enhancing the current abilities that these software agents provide. Key words: Intelligent Personal Assistant Agents, Semantic repositories, Subject-centric computing



The amount of information available is growing exponentially. As a result, people can be overwhelmed by the information published in a plethora of new books, web pages, etc. In addition, advances in information technology have reduced the barriers in electronic publishing and distribution of information over networks anywhere in the world, increasing the number of publications [1]. To address the problem of information overload and to convert all available information sources in useful information, Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) agents have emerged as a feasible solution to assist users in different application domains. Intelligent Agents (IAs) are autonomous entities provided with an initial knowledge and with the capability of learning to achieve their goals [2]. The functionality of IAs covers several attributes, including autonomy, continuity, adaptability, goal orientation, communication, and learning ability which gives intelligence to the agent. By learning, it becomes able to adapt itself to its dynamic environment, reducing work and information overload. The software agents approach is a key area in the field of Artificial Intelligence research.

5]. aiming to support people in some different issues or scenarios. Unlike DBMS. The system represents queries and documents . Section 4 details our proposed architecture. We think that IPA agents not only have to continuously improve their behavior based on similar previous experiences (as recommender agents usually do). the Semantic Web emerged as an area where the semantic repositories become very important [4. Semantic repositories are data engines similar to the DataBase Management Systems (DBMS) which allow for storage. The Semantic Web effort aims to make such knowledge accessible to computer programs by encoding it on the web in machine interpretable form [6]. discuss. One significant difference between IPA agents and IAs is that IPAs collaborate with the user in different ways. and (ii) works which proposed different applications for them. Over the last decade. (ii) ontologies. This paper is organized as follows: Section 2 describes the related work with regard to several techniques applied to provide intelligence to IPAs. but also they should demonstrate competence to the user while simultaneously developing social relationships to engage him. developed by Sowa [8]. is a knowledge representation language initially designed to capture the meaning of natural language. Semantic repositories potentially offer easier integration of diverse data and more analytical power. 2 Related Work In the literature we can find several works addressing IPA agents. and management of structured data. and guide people. In this paper we present a novel approach to enhance the IPA agents with semantic knowledge. by hiding the complexity of difficult tasks. and (iii) neural networks. In Section 3 we introduce the different problems that motivated our work. and teaching the user to monitor events and procedures [3]. They should be able to communicate. Zhang et al. We have divided these works into two different subsections: (i) works which proposed different techniques to provide intelligence to IPA agents. This allows them to automatically reason about the information. Finally. querying.2 IPA agents are software agents which assist users in performing specific tasks. Our proposal may bring great benefits in computer-aided guiding. they use ontologies as semantic schemata. cooperate. and in virtually unlimited tasks and applications. Section 5 presents some concluding remarks. The CG. These IPA agents will be provided with knowledge based on semantic repositories. performing tasks on behalf of the user. [7] proposed an intelligent information retrieval model based on the multi-agent paradigm and Conceptual Graphs (CGs).1 Techniques to Provide Intelligence to IPA agents The majority of the techniques proposed to provide intelligence to IPA agents are based on three different knowledge representation approaches: (i) conceptual graphs. and their different applications found in the literature. 2.

teaching the user. and the second one treats distributed knowledge bases located at different servers as an integrated domain knowledge. The IHDPMA provides a semantic analysis of healthy diet status for people based on the pre-constructed ontology by domain experts and results of fuzzy inference. or supporting users through recommender systems. There are different purposes that IPAs can be applied to. More recently. The first one is based on using an IPA agent to assist the user in the information retrieval process. [14] studied the evolution of personal assistant agents from when they were introduced and their applications in mobile telecommuni- . For evaluating the performance of the agent a case study was considered. Czibula et al. performing tasks on behalf of the user. [11] proposed an intelligent healthy diet planning multi-agent (IHDPMA). Homayounvala et al. a discovery agent. [10] explained how to provide a memory mechanism to IPA agents. auto-notification. 2. Fung et al. [3] presented an IPA agent that learns by supervision to assist users in performing specific tasks. including a personal profile agent. Wang et al. Ding et al. Lee et al. other different interesting applications can be found on the literature. we present some interesting proposed IPA agents and their applications. Ontologies have become a very powerful tool of representing the information and its semantics. [13] presented two proposals to solve the problem of distributed search over the Internet. Semantic Neural Networks (SNNs) are generally used for natural language processing. is capable of providing a high quality answer set to the user. and a semantic generation agent for healthy diet planning. and a neural network was used by the agent to learn by supervision from its experience. The most common application has been filtering information in the Web through software agents specialized in tasks such as improving the information retrieval process. Next. and monitoring procedures and events. This solution was inspired by a case memory model in the domain of Case-Based Reasoning (CBR) and helped by an ontology module to generate a new case. [12] presented an intelligent Personal Agent for Web Search (PAWS) designed to carry out personalized web search for each user based on his individual preferences. For example. a nutrition facts analysis agent. such as intelligent search. an ontologybased decision support system agent designed to project monitoring and control of Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). and personal information management. none of the previous works have studied how IPA agents would support users in their knowledge acquisition process when attempting to find information through semantic repositories. To the best of our knowledge.3 in CGs. However. which brings semantic in some functions.2 Common Applications of IPA Agents IPA agents have been applied in many applications and for a variety of purposes. Chen et al. The PAWS intelligently utilizes a Self-Organizing Map (SOM) as the user’s profile and therefore. such as hiding complexity of difficult tasks. a knowledge analysis agent. developed OIDSA [9]. a fuzzy inference agent. navigation guide.

In addition. Access is limited by distance and lack of transportation. .4 cations. making it possible to obtain more specialized assistants which can help users in different domains and scenarios. Regarding the use of IPAs in education (also known as Intelligent Pedagogical Agents). It represents a better alternative to online resources. The IVTE software was implemented with Multi-agent (MAS) and Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITS) technology. probing questions. enhancing their quality of life). which gives more adaptable information to the teaching process. placing an increasing burden on healthcare [19]. a pedagogical agent that is designed to work with Web-based educational simulations. The adaptable information is promoted by an Animated Pedagogical Agent which monitors. [17] tested and verified a framework that aims to implement a set of resources for developing Intelligent Learning Objects. Many rural patients are also socially isolated and often live some distance away from family members and friends.e. This system is addressed to non-professional athletes which usually rely on the information about training methods and nutrition recommendations provided online. improving the education process (in formal or vocational learning). and helping drivers (in Intelligent Transportation Systems). and explanations. For this purpose. guides and individualizes the learning process using a student model and teaching strategies. a learning environment model was created. the number of individuals requiring long-term care is expected to dramatically increase in the next twenty years. The Adele architecture implements key pedagogical functions: presentation. an expert system which uses Bayesian networks. The use of IPA agents can provide support in terms of medical evaluation and intervention as well as social support with the intent of allowing patients to function in their home environments as long as possible (i. hints. In addition. In [18] authors presented the evolution description and relevance of Intelligent Virtual Teaching Environment (IVTE) and also gave emphasis in the Cognitive Agent Model represented by an Animated Pedagogical Agent. 3 Motivation In our work we aim to provide IPA agents with semantic web knowledge. In [16] authors presented Adele. a migration policy based on user classification was proposed to enhance the performance of mobile services. Our proposed system tries to address different applications such as helping elderly people and people with special needs. The model has an Animated Pedagogical Agent (APA) that interacts with two specific agents of the system. the elderly population in rural areas often faces a number of challenges in obtaining healthcare. With an aging population. Wilges et al. student monitoring and feedback. because it is based on scientific research findings and evaluated by domain experts. The purpose of IVTE software is to educate children to preserve the environment. we can found several works. In [15] authors presented iAPERAS.

IPAs can: (i) increase the students’ engagement. sensitive and safe to drive on. self learning.5 Moreover. As shown. focus shifted to mechanical and automotive engineering. learning facilitator. (iii) improve the interactions between the computer and the learner. making cars more intelligent. instead of contributors. In the next subsections we explain them further. background knowledge. assist drivers in special situations. Now. roads. 4 Our Proposal In this section we present our proposal in detail. embedding them with sensors and advanced electronics. (iv) act as a teacher. Our IPA Agent has four differentiated areas: (i) the rational area. in the past. The use of IPAs in education (also known as Intelligent Pedagogical Agents) provides benefits to the educational process [21]. innovations made so far in wireless mobile communications and networking technologies are starting to impact cars. In this work we are only interested in IPAs as knowledge consumers. (iii) the commonsense area. or even a student peer in collaborative settings. Hence. . electronics technology impacted the construction of cars. Later on. and (iv) the behavioral area. Figure 1 shows our proposed conceptual architecture. since semantic repositories provide them documentation of knowledge. The use of IPA agents in car industry. In our proposal we aim to improve IPAs by enriching them with suitable semantic web knowledge. commonsense. embedded in the car On-board Units (OBUs). people were focused on how to build efficient highways and roads. the Internet has opened up a range of new communication opportunities for people with special needs since it is an accessible communication medium that provides an opportunity to exchange practical information and support and to experience an accepting relationship with less prejudice [20]. Regarding the car industry. We foresee that IPA agents can also participate in the Next Generation Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). save fuel. One important issue to be considered should be user modeling and understanding. and (v) act pedagogically on behalf or with learners. intelligent decision support. and it will provide them with a suitable answer. Over time. such as calculating efficient routes. by helping the drivers and providing useful services. in the pursuit of building faster cars to surmount greater distances. needs and preferences will be important for the IPA to contextualize its performance. explaining the different knowledge areas that an IPA agent should have in order to facilitate and improve the knowledge acquisition process. (ii) add value by giving new educational possibilities and computational-richness support. will drastically change the way we view transportation systems of the next generation and the way we drive in the future. user’s parameters such as behavior. (ii) the association area. etc. and reasoning abilities [23]. people can express a problem to the IPA agent about something of their interest. and highways [22].

6 Fig. this system allows parallel search in different repositories. . it makes the associations and builds the correct answer. and performs different tasks: it searches in a Commonsense Knowledge Base. Proposed conceptual architecture. As previously mentioned. Moreover. this design presents high scalability since new metadata schemata can be easily integrated. so this is one of the most important areas. In order to increase the level of realism. reducing its response time. the IPA agent processes it. When someone states a question or a problem. Once it has obtained the results. 4. These tasks can be done in parallel. 1. thus reducing the response time. the interaction with people could be done with voice.1 Rational Area Our main objective is to provide IPA agents with Semantic Web Knowledge. and achieving interoperability between those repositories. and tries to find the most appropriate emotion in this context. also in different Knowledge Bases. The IPA agent will consult some different semantic web repositories to obtain the most suitable contents regarding the user’s needs. We have decided to use semantic repositories with the aim of enhancing IPA agents by providing them with automatic data reasoning capabilities.

out of which 1. Unlike many other automatically assembled knowledge bases. Freebase is also a community of thousands of people. FreeBase1 Freebase is an http://www. The MERLOT repository includes learning materials. 4. The DBpedia knowledge base currently describes more than 3. Regarding applications related to elderly people or people with special needs. staff and students of higher education from around the world to share their learning materials and pedagogy. YAGO knows more than 2 million entities and 20 million facts about these entities. personal collections and Content Builder web pages.freebase.merlot. making the appropriate associations and decision-making. comments. For example. Table 1. the location of the car obtained thanks to the Global Positioning System (GPS) and roadmaps. The learning materials are categorized into 14 different types.2 Association Area This area will merge the results obtained in the Rational Area. 1 2 http://www.7 Table 1 shows some of the possible knowledge repositories that our IPA agent could integrate. DBPedia [26] DBpedia is a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web.4 million things. in Intelligent Transportation Systems. For example. Depending on the selected application addressed by the IPA. but assignments.5 million are classified in a consistent Ontology. Currently. DBpedia allows users to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia. YAGO has a manually confirmed accuracy of 95%. MERLOT2 MERLOT is a free and open online community of resources designed primarily for faculty. working together to improve Freebase’s data. more specific knowledge databases could be added to the system. and to link other data sets on the Web to Wikipedia data. The objective is to make the IPA capable of making skillful intellectual tasks since it will be enhanced with knowledge provided by semantic repositories. indoor navigation is also important. is also necessary for semantic navigation purposes. Creative Commons licensed repository of structured data of more than 12 million . or other important information will be required. Characteristics of some Semantic Repositories Name YAGO [25] Description YAGO is a huge semantic knowledge base. in hospitals where both the working staff and patients need to find and use the “best” semantic navigation path [24].

Thanks to this area. and the Commonsense Knowledge Base) can be searched in parallel. as users typically think. is difficult to comprehend by the end user due to the complex structure of knowledge contained in semantic repositories. Since the resources offered by semantic repositories are commonly limited to formal taxonomic relations or dictionary definitions of lexical items. Therefore. In the future we want to test some state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence algorithms to find the most suitable to be used by IPA agents for multiple purposes. or in Intelligent Transportation Systems. This area will help to analyze and process both the input queries.8 The traditional information organization has been always focused on documents. To accomplish this. such as computer-aided learning. in which information should be organized by subjects.. It will also support the behavioral area to find the most appropriate emotion according to the context. and files.3 Commonsense Area As previously mentioned. and allows commonsense inferences should be integrated. and the output responses. our IPA will be provided with semantic repositories. To implement this area we planned to use a context-aware adaptive system which can tailor its behavior depending on the different user requirements in every moment.e. the Semantic Web which adds modular. the collection of facts and information that an ordinary person is expected to know). Table 2 shows a comparison of two open Commonsense Knowledge initiatives which could be used in our system. supporting elderly people. the IPA agent will be provided with Commonsense Knowledge. Humans do not usually look for a certain document or folder. a resource which captures a wide range of commonsense concepts and relations. the IPA agent could assign different weights to the available results obtained from the knowledge resources. 4. we think that our system should also integrate commonsense knowledge (i. we suggest for this area a subject-centric approach. we argue that our proposal can be used in quite different scenarios. The different knowledge resources managed by the IPA agent (i. folders. but the results must be correctly merged to obtain the most suitable answer depending on the context. instead they look for information about a particular subject that they are interested in. Table 2. In this way.. and reusable knowledge resources. However. According to this. formal and vocational education. Semantic Repositories. people with special needs. Comparison of two open Commonsense Knowledge initiatives OpenCyc [27] Largely handcrafted Knowledge Engineers Formalized Logical Mapping text ConceptNet [28] Automatically from OMCS Corpus General Public Contextual Commonsense Real-world texts Generation Acquisition Reasoning Content .e.

and then he can show his feeling using the aforementioned channels. the lack of realism. or more general nonverbal communication. addressing some of the key drawbacks that the majority of IPA agents (i. 2.. including facial and vocal expressions of emotion. agents exploit two different channels to show their emotions: Visual and aural channel [34]. This area will make it possible to increase the level of realism of the assistant agent. The IPA agent will react according to the context and the sense of the queries made by users.4 Behavioral Area An important issue in developing personal assistants is emotion [30–32].e. Eliciting emotions is a much more difficult concern than conveying emotions. emotions. Generally. For example if the user is saying something bad happened to him and the IPA agent has positive impressions of the person. personality and social interactions). Behavioral area should cover facial expressions as well as body language. the agent has to “feel” something.9 Fig. but also interaction patterns with the learners. and its emotional status and mood must be updated with emotional impulses from the environment [33]. the resulting emotion will be sorry for this situation. A pedagogical agent may feel excitement and joy when the learner does well and he can be disappointed when problem-solving progress is less than optimal. etc. The relationship with a user should affect the emotional reactions of the assistant agent. Before exhibiting an emotion. An IPA agent can better assist users with an appropriate usage of several emotions. 4. For . Example of emotions that would be expressed by IPA agents [29].

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