via IEEE-Discuss mailing list
IEEE Technical Committee on Learning Technology has announced the creation of "Virtual Instructors Pilot Research Group". The information can be found in a word document.
The project is ambitious as stated in the opening of the background:
by year 2010, virtual humans will pass the Turning Test*. In [Ray Kurzweil 's] prediction, people will not mistake virtual humans for real ones, but will interact naturally with them as information assistants, virtual coaches, virtual sales clerks, virtual teachers, entertainers, and virtual instructors.
But it is a sensible step forward as the objective of the project is basically just to create an information distribution platform for people interested in this area of work:
A. Organize online pilot research group list serve.
B. Organize regional seminars both nationally and internationally.
C. Facilitate joint publication of research.
D. Identity interoperable research projects.
E. Collaborate to define virtual instructor architecture.
*The statement is quite interesting because it strikes a strange conflicting issue. Passing Turning test implies that the machine is indistinguishable from a human. Yet, the next sentence states that people will not mistake virtual humans for real ones. Anyway, semantic details aside, this should be an interesting project to watch if not to participant directly.