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The L.A. Times reports that an artificial intelligence system called Cyc (short for "encyclopedia") will make its public debut later this summer. Cyc has been in development for 17 years, and it seems to be able to conduct reference interviews of sorts.
The full story also summarizes A.I. history. By the way, the developers have taught Cyc that killing is worse than lying, so we won\'t have a HAL on our hands.