Professor Yorick Wilks
Yorick Wilks has interests in artificial intelligence and the computer processing of language, knowledge and belief. His current research focuses on the possibility of software agents having identifiable personalities.
Yorick Wilks is a Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Sheffield. He received his MA and PhD (1968) from Pembroke College, Cambridge. He has also taught or researched at Stanford, Edinburgh, Geneva, Essex and New Mexico State Universities. His interests are artificial intelligence and the computer processing of language, knowledge and belief, especially as applied to the future of the Internet: the Semantic Web and the possibility of Companion-like interfaces.
His recent books include: Natural language Processing and the Semantic Web (with Christopher Brewster, Now Books, 2009), Machine Translation - how far can it go (Springer, 2009), Artificial Believers (Erlbaum 1991), Electric Words (MIT, 1996) and Machine Conversations (Kluwer, 2001), and a new edited volume in 2009 from John Benjamins is: 'Artificial Companions in Society: scientific, economic, psychological and philosophical perspectives'. He is a Research Fellow of the Centre for Policy Studies.
See the initial Companions demonstrators.
artificial companions, Semantic Web, artificial intelligence, computer processing of language, knowledge and belief
Positions held at the OII
- Research Associate, November 2010 - September 2014
- Senior Research Fellow, January 2007 - October 2010
- Visiting Professor, October 2006 - January 2007
- Research Associate, March - October 2006
- Visitor, October 2005 - February 2006
- Visiting Fellow, September 2003 - February 2004
August 2008 - July 2013
The Learning Companion project aims to evaluate the feasibility of a computer-based digital tool to help adults whose engagement with learning is tentative or hard to sustain make productive use of the Internet for achieving their own learning projects.
October 2007 - April 2009
Establishing networks of researchers from different technical and social science research disciplines to begin to develop a Web Science research agenda through the exchange of PhD students and collaborative workshops.
November 2006 - October 2010
This project developed a virtual conversational 'Companion': an agent that stays with the user for long periods of time, develops a relationship and 'knows' its owner's preferences and wishes, communicating primarily by using and understanding speech.
- Wilks, Y. (2008) The Semantic Web and the Apotheosis of annotation: but what are its semantics? IEEE Intelligent Systems 23 (3) 41-49.
- Wilks, Y. (2008) On Whose Shoulders? [ACL Lifetime Achievement Award] Computational Linguistics 34 (4) 471-486.
- Wilks, W. (2007) Is There Progress on Talking Sensibly to Machines? Science 318: 927-928.
- Wilks, Y. (2007) Is there progress on talking sensibly to computers? Science 318: 927-928.
- Wilks, Y. (2005) Artificial companions. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 30 (2) 145-152.
- Saggion, H., Cunningham, H., Bontcheva, K., Maynard, D., Hamza, O. and Wilks, Y. (2004) Multimedia Indexing through Multisource and Multilingual Information Extraction; the MUMIS project. Data and Knowledge Engineering 48 (2) 247-264.
- Wilks, Y. (2004) Are ontologies distinctive enough for computations over knowledge? IEEE Intelligent Systems, Trends and Controversies.
- Wilks, Y. (2004) On the Ownership of Text. Computers and the Humanities 38 (2) 115-127.
- Pastra, K., Saggion, H. and Wilks, Y. (2003) Extracting relational facts for indexing and retrieval of crime-scene photographs. Knowledge-Based Systems 16 (5-6) 313-320.
- Pastra, K., Saggion, H. and Wilks, Y. (2003) Intelligent Indexing of Crime-Scene Photographs. IEEE Intelligent Systems [Special Issue on Advances in Natural Language Processing] 18 (1) 55-61.
- Peters, W. and Wilks, Y. (2003) Data-driven Detection of Figurative Language Use in Electronic Language Resources. Metaphor and Symbol 18 (3) 161-173.
- Maynard, D., Tablan, V., Cunningham, H., Ursu, C., Saggion, H., Bontcheva, K. and Wilks, Y. (2002) Architectural Elements of Language Engineering Robustness. Natural Language Engineering 8 (2/3) 257-274.
- Wilks, Y. and Catizone, R. (2002) What is Lexical Tuning? Journal of Semantics 19 (2) 167-190.
- Nirenburg, S. and Wilks, Y. (2001) What's in a symbol: ontology, representation and language. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 13 (1) 9-23.
- Ballim, A., Wilks, Y., By, T. and Liske, C. (2001) Modelling agent attitudes in legal reasoning. Computers and Informatics 20 (6).
- Stevenson, M. and Wilks, Y. (2001) The Interaction of Knowledge Sources in Word Sense Disambiguation. Computational Linguistics 27 (3) 321-349.
- Wilks, Y. (2000) Is Word Sense Disambiguation Just One More NLP Task? Computers and the Humanities 34 (1-2) 235-243.
- Wilks, Y. (ed.) (2010) Close Engagements with Artificial Companions. Key social, psychological, ethical and design issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Wilks, Y. and Pustejovsky, J. (eds) (in press) Readings in the Lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Wilks, Y. and Brewster, C. (2009) Natural Language Processing as a Foundation of the Semantic Web. London: Now Press.
- Wilks, Y. (2008) Machine Translation: its scope and limits. New York, NY: Springer.
- Ahmad, K., Brewster, C. and Stevenson, M. (eds) (2007) Words and Intelligence I. Selected papers by Yorick Wilks. Dordrecht: Springer.
- Wilks, Y. (ed.) (2006) Language, cohesion and form: selected papers of Margaret Masterman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Wilks, Y., Nirenburg, S., Somers, H. (eds) (2003) Readings in Machine Translation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Catizone, R., Worgan, S., Wilks, Y., Dingli, A and Cheng, W. (2010) A world-hybrid approach to a conversational Companion for reminiscing about images. In: Y.Wilks (ed.) Close Engagements with Artificial Companions. Key social, psychological, ethical and design issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Wilks, Y. (2010) On being a Victorian Companion. In: Y.Wilks (ed.) Close Engagements with Artificial Companions. Key social, psychological, ethical and design issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Peltu, M. and Wilks, Y. (2010) Summary and discussion of the issues. In: Y.Wilks (ed.) Close Engagements with Artificial Companions. Key social, psychological, ethical and design issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Wilks, Y. (2010) Introducing artificial Companions. In: Y.Wilks (ed.) Close Engagements with Artificial Companions. Key social, psychological, ethical and design issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Wilks, Y. (2008) What is the Semantic Web and what will it do for eScience? In: R.Kumar Jain (ed.) Semantic Web: Concepts and Applications. ICfai Press, Hyderabad.
- Webb, N., Hepple, M. and Wilks, Y. (2005) Error Analysis of Dialogue Act Classification. Text, Speech and Dialogue: Proceedings of 8th International Conference, Carlsbad, Czech Republic, 12-15 September 2005, pp. 451-458.
- Wilks, Y. (2004) IR and AI: Traditions of representation and non-representation in Information Processing. In: S.McDonald and J.Tait (eds) Advances in Information Retrieval. ECIR 2004, LNCS 2997, pp. 12–26.
- Wilks, Y. (2009) Artificial Companions as dialogue agents. Proceedings of SIGDIAL Workshop on Discourse and Dialogue (SIGDIAL 2009), Queen Mary University of London, 11-12 September 2009.
- Field, D., Catizone, R., Cheng, W., Dingli, A., Worgan, S., Ye, L. and Wilks, Y. (2009) The Senior Companion: a Semantic Web Dialogue System. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS 2009), Demonstration Track, Budapest, Hungary, 10-15 May 2009.
- Dingli, A., Wilks, Y., Catizone, R. and Cheng, W. (2009) The Companions: Hybrid-World Approach. KRPD09 Workshop, International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI), Pasadena, CA.
- Catizone, R., Worgan, S., Wilks, Y., Dingli, A. and Cheng, W. (2008) A Multimodal Conversational Companion for Reminiscing about Images. Fourth International Workshop on Human-Computer Conversation, Bellagio, Italy.
- Catizone, R., Dingli, A., Pinto, H. and Wilks, Y. (2008) Information Extraction tools and methods for Understanding Dialogue in a Companion. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC08), Marrakech, Morocco.
- Field, D., Worgan, S., Webb, N., Hepple, M. and Wilks, Y. (2008) Automatic Induction of Dialogue Structure from the Companions Dialogue Corpus. Fourth International Workshop on Human-Computer Conversation, Bellagio, Italy.
- Guthrie, D., Guthrie, L. and Wilks, Y. (2008) An Unsupervised Approach for the Detection of Outliers in Corpora. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC08), Marrakech, Morocco.
- Pinto, H., Wilks, Y., Catizone, R. and Dingli, A. (2008) The Senior Companion Multiagent Dialogue System. In: Proceedings of the Seventh International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 08).
- Webb, N., Liu, T., Hepple, M. and Wilks, Y. (2008) Cross Domain Dialogue Act Tagging. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC08), Marrakech, Morocco.
- Wilks, Y., Benyon, D., Brewster, C., Ircing, P. and Mival, O. (2008) Dialogue, Speech and Images: The Companions Project Data Set. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC08), Marrakech, Morocco.
- Wilks, Y., Catizone, R. and Mival, O. (2008) The Companions paradigm as a method of eliciting and organising life data. Proceedings of Workshop on Memories for Life, British Computer Society, London, 18 March 2008.
- Wilks, Y. (2008) What would a Wittgensteinian Computational Linguistics be like? Proceedings of AISB'08, Workshop on Computers and Philosophy, Aberdeen.
- Dalli, A. and Wilks, Y. (2006) A System for Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Online News and Blogs. HLT-NAACL 2006, New York, 5-7 June 2006.
- Guthrie, D., Allison, B., Liu, W., Guthrie, L. and Wilks, Y. (2006) A Closer Look at Skip-gram Modelling. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Language, Resources and Evaluation (LREC'06), Genoa, Italy, 22-28 May 2006, pp. 1222-1225.
- Iria, J., Brewster, C., Ciravegna, F. and Wilks, Y. (2006) An Incremental Tri-partite Approach to Ontology Learning. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Language, Resources and Evaluation (LREC'06), Genoa, Italy, 22-28 May 2006.
- Catizone, R., Dalli, A. and Wilks, Y. (2006) A Methodology for Evaluating Timelines. Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Language, Resources and Evaluation (LREC'06), Genoa, Italy, 22-28 May 2006.
- Wilks, Y. (2006) Getting Meaning into the Machine. Proceedings of IEEE Intelligent Systems: Special Issue on 50th Anniversary of Dartmouth Conference.
- Dalli, A., Catizone, R. and Wilks, Y. (2006) A Sheffield Multiple-Document Summarisation System for MES 2006. MES'06 Workshop, COLING/ACL, Sydney, Australia.
- Dalli, A. and Wilks, Y. (2006) Automatic Dating of Documents and Temporal Text Classification. Proceedings of COLING/ACL'06, Sydney, Australia.
- Webb, N., Hepple, M. and Wilks, Y. (2005) Empirical determination of thresholds for optimal dialogue act classification. Proceedings of the 9th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue (SemDial), Nancy, France.
- Webb, N., Hepple, M. and Wilks, Y. (2005) Dialogue Act Classification using Intra-Utterance Features. Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Spoken Language Understanding, Pittsburgh, PA.
- Webb, N., Hardy, H., Ursu, M., Strzalkowski, T. and Wilks, Y. (2005) Data-Driven Language Understanding for Spoken Language Dialogue. Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Spoken Language Understanding, Pittsburgh, PA.
- Wilks, Y. (2005) What would a Wittgensteinian Linguistics be like? Proceedings of the International Conference on Pragmatics, Lake Garda.
- Pastra, E. and Wilks, Y. (2004) Vision-Language Integration in AI: a reality check. Proceedings of the 16th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI'04), Valencia, Spain, pp. 937-941.
- Dalli, A., Xia, Y. and Wilks, Y. (2004) Adaptive Information Management: FASiL Email Summariser. Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING'04), Geneva, Switzerland.
- Huang, F. and Wilks, Y. (2007) Clustered sub-matrix singular value decomposition. NAACL/HLT 2007.
- Turunen, M., Hakulinen, J., Kainulainen, A., Catizone, R., Pinto, H., Gorrell, G., Wilks, Y., Stahl, O., Tabutiaux, B., Rodriguez Gancedo, M.C., Cavazza, M., Danieli, M. and Pele, D. (2008) An Initial Prototype COMPANION. Deliverable D1.1.3 for the EC 6FP IST Companions Project (IST-34434).
- Boye, J., Catizone, R., Gorrell, G., Pinto, H., Wilks, Y. and Wiren, M. (2007) Base Dialogue model structure based on state-of-the-art. Deliverable D3.1.1 for the EC 6FP IST Companions Project (IST-34434).
- Wilks, Y. and Peltu, M. (2008) Close Engagements with Artificial Companions: Key Social, Psychological, Ethical and Design Issues. Oxford Internet Institute Forum Discussion Paper No. 14, University of Oxford.
- Wilks, Y. (2006) What is the Semantic Web and what will it do for eScience? Oxford Internet Institute Research Report No. 12, University of Oxford.
- Wilks, Y. (2006) Artificial Companions as a new kind of interface to the future Internet. Oxford Internet Institute Research Report No. 13, University of Oxford.
Recorded on: 7 December 2010 Duration: 00:59:58
A recording of our first 'virtual open day', with the OII Director of Graduate Studies, the OII MSc course convenor, and a student representative answering questions submitted online about our Graduate Studies programme.
Recorded on: 29 November 2010 Duration: 00:02:27
Yorick Wilks discusses the main themes of his lecture in the OII's "Society and the Internet" lecture series: how do we identify, articulate and deliberate about the ethical issues present in the Internet?
Recorded on: 12 July 2010 Duration: 01:01:47
Yorick Wilks explores the state of the art in modelling realistic conversation with computers over the last 40 years, and asks what we would want in a conversational agent (or 'Companion') designed for a long-term relationship with a user.
Recorded on: 18 June 2009 Duration: 01:03:35
Martin Kay produced three of the key advances in language and computation over a long 50 years career: he discusses these in an interview, along with anecdotes that give a historical content for that seminal work.
Recorded on: 16 November 2006 Duration: 00:32:34
The Companion is a persistent conversational agent that appears to learn a person's tastes and habits, and carries out activities within their digital space on the Internet, such as organising image and text records as a coherent life narrative.
15 February 2007 Oxford Internet Institute
Professor Yorick Wilks joins the OII as a Senior Research Fellow. His research interests include artificial intelligence and the computer processing of language, knowledge and belief.
Yorick Wilks on 17 Oct 2011 16:22PM
As the euro staggers, it may seem bad taste to examine the possibilities for yet another created or artificial currency. But the bitcoin* is worth a quick look because it makes us think again about the nature of currency and what value consists in. We all [...]
Yorick Wilks on 6 Dec 2010 16:31PM
A new area in which the Internet may disrupt established social practices and rituals is the British jury system. Juries have always been sequestered to some degree, not normally in the US sense of isolation in hotels for long periods away from television [...]
Yorick Wilks on 23 Aug 2010 16:56PM
The news that the new (compulsory) German ID card will be RFID equipped (International Business Times 21 August: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/44536/20100821/identity-cards-with-rfid-chip-on-track-in-germany.htm) is a step change towards John McCarthy [...]
Yorick Wilks on 22 Mar 2010 12:01PM
The Prime Minister today announced (http://www.number10.gov.uk/) a new Web Science Institute with a commitment of £30m of Government money, and headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt of the OII Advisory Board. This presumably means TBL is [...]
Yorick Wilks on 24 Feb 2010 15:41PM
As a professional technophile, I have always dismissed outbursts of anti-technology feeling as agreeably retro but harmless, like the effusions of those who still write real letters on paper and tell us all so. I have begun to question my stance only [...]
Yorick Wilks on 27 Jan 2010 19:47PM
In many jurisdictions, such as the UK, you are free to kill yourself (without prosecution if you survive unexpectedly!) but not to help others commit suicide. This may well be a wise position, and the distinction seems to be reemerging on the social web. [...]
Yorick Wilks on 30 Nov 2009 06:21AM
At the Web Science Trust meeting in Boston last week—a trust in which he OII is a partner site—the Chinese site (at ShenZen) described an interesting novel phenomenon on the Internet they are investigating that might call a Flash Posse (as opposed to a [...]
Yorick Wilks on 29 Oct 2009 16:50PM
Facebook has decided to treat the dead differently at last, so breaking through the old problem that, just as on the web you couldnt tell someone was a dog–as in the famous New Yorker cartoon–similarly you couldnt tell they were dead. Facebook [...]
Yorick Wilks on 1 Sep 2009 15:26PM
Bill Dutton talking to the Forum’s news unit is at
Yorick Wilks on 15 Aug 2009 12:21PM
Today’s papers report a new method being trialed from the US to get news into countries with heavily censored Internet access such as China and Iran. (see: [...]
Yorick Wilks on 10 Jul 2009 16:01PM
Recent proposals to consider Google or Microsoft as possible holders of citizens’ health records produced a predictable range of comments in the Times blog: from “yes, yes, anything to get away from another centralized state database” to [...]
Yorick Wilks on 1 May 2009 13:49PM
The Guardian last leader yesterday told of a woman—-who started as Eileen de Bont (!)—-and who changed her name to Pudsey Bear to raise money for charity. Later the Identity and Passport Agency (did you know it had changed its name—and [...]
Yorick Wilks on 25 Apr 2009 10:36AM
From Slashdot today: +——————————————————————–+ | Hundreds of Thousands of Chinese Black-Hats [...]
Companions on 9 Mar 2009 13:54PM
www.captology.stanfod.edu The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab creates insight into how computing products — from websites to mobile phone software — can be designed to change what people believe and what they do. Yes, this can be a scary topic: [...]
Companions on 26 Feb 2009 13:55PM
Ten years on here are two of his Predictions for 2019 (we’re half way)!!!! *People communicate with their computers via two-way speech and gestures instead of with keyboards. Furthermore, most of this interaction occurs through computerized [...]
Companions on 15 Feb 2009 13:50PM
(send my Bob Amsler, MITRE Corp.—–thanks to him) The New York Times, Feb. 12th, 2009 Sensors Help Keep the Elderly at Home Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times Joseph Hayduk, 86, who suffers from congestive heart failure, transmits his [...]
Companions on 19 Dec 2008 08:59AM
Noel Sharkey, Computer Science professor at the University of Sheffield, argues in Science that prolonged exposure to care robots will be dangerous: “These robots can help the elderly to maintain independence in their own homes, but their presence [...]
Companions on 16 Dec 2008 11:04AM
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5193865.ece Professor Tarassenko’s company takes health data keyed by patients to a health monitoring centre.
Companions on 15 Dec 2008 12:23PM
Inventor Builds Robot Wife | | from the you-lonely-lonely-man dept. | | posted by samzenpus on Thursday December 11, @02:37 (Robotics) | | [...]
Companions on 15 Dec 2008 12:21PM
Just as we depend on mobile phones and cars in our daily lives today, the next 15 years will see mass hybridisation between humans and robots,” says Antonio Lopez Pelaez, a professor of sociology at Spain’s National Distance Learning [...]