Pattie Maes

July 11, 2009

Pattie Maes is an Associate Professor at MIT’s Media Laboratory, where she founded and directs the Software Agents Group, and is principal investigator of the e-markets Special Interest Group. Previously, she was a visiting Professor and a Research Scientist at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. She holds a Bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium. Her areas of expertise are Artificial Intelligence, Human Computer Interaction, Computer Supported Collaborative Work, Information Filtering and Electronic Commerce.

Pattie Maes is one of the pioneers of a new research area called Software Agents–an area which builds upon all of the disciplines listed above. Software Agents are semi-intelligent computer programs which assist a user with the overload of information and the complexity of the online world. Maes’ group pioneered the use of machine learning to build such agents and invented a range of new algorithms such as collaborative filtering. Her team built the first succesful prototypes of agents for personalized information filtering, eager assistant agents, agents that buy and sell on behalf of a user, matchmaking agents and remembrance agents.

Maes is frequently quoted in the popular press and on television as an expert in this increasingly important application area. She is one of the organizers for the leading conferences in this area such as the annual Autonomous Agents conference and the annual ACM Electronic Commerce Technologies conference. She is a founder and board member of the Agent Society, an international industry and professional organization established to assist in the widespread development and emergence of intelligent agent technologies and markets.

Pattie Maes has been an invited speaker at numerous academic and industry conferences: the TED conference, IJCAI conference, AAAI conference, Siggraph conference, CHI conference, Apple Developers conference, etc. She was selected as one of the 16 leading visionaries to speak at the 50th anniversary conference of the Association for Computing Machinery. In recent years Upside Magazine included her in their list of 100 most influential netizens; Newsweek Magazine named her one of the 100 Americans to watch for in the year 2000; TIME Digital, a bi-monthly insert in Time Magazine did a cover story about her work and recently selected her as a member of the the Cyber Elite, the top 50 technological pioneers of the high-tech world; Scientific American invited her to write an article for their 100th anniversary issue; the World Economic Forum honored her with the title “Global Leader for Tomorrow”; and in June 2000 she was recognized with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Massachusetts Interactive Media Council .

Pattie Maes is a consultant in the area of Software Agents for several Fortune 1000 companies. She is the editor of three books and is an editorial board member and reviewer for numerous professional journals and conferences, such as the User Modeling journal, the Personal Technologies journal and the Artificial Life journal. She has published numerous articles in professional journals, books, conference proceedings and trade journals. Her work has achieved several prizes, including the IBM best Bachelor’s thesis award (1984), the OOPSLA-1987 best paper award, the Ars Electronica 1995 award, the Interactive Media Festival Award 1995, the ArcTec 1995 award and so on.

In addition to her MIT Media Lab research, Pattie Maes has been an active Internet entrepreneur since 1994. She was a founder and board member of Firefly Network, Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts – one of the first companies to commercialize personalization and profiling technology. Firefly was acquired by Microsoft in April 1998. She is also a founder and a board member of Open Ratings, Inc., a provider of performance data on businesses for B2B ecommerce. Finally she is an advisor and board member of Frictionless Commerce, Inc., another B2B ecommerce company that grew out of her research group, as well as for Lexeme, Inc., which commercializes concept-based navigation technology.

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