Helsinki Distinguished Lecture: Alon Halevy "Searching for Experiences"

This lecture is part of the Helsinki Distinguished Lecture Series on Future Information Technology, organized by HIIT, a joint research institute between University of Helsinki and Aalto University.
Alon Halevy

Searching for Experiences

Alon Halevy


The rise of Artificial Intelligence raises an important challenge: how can we develop AI that increases the well-being of its users? This talk will describe a set of projects that address this issue and raise challenges for Natural Language Understanding and data management. The main theme of these projects is to help users create experiences that make them happy. The first project, Jo, is a smart-journaling application that allows users to enjoy the insights of the field of Positive Psychology in the context of their own lives. Users log their important moments via short texts and Jo attempts to give them insights that help them take steps toward creating more positive moments in their lives. The second project helps users create positive experiences when they shop online for services. The observation underlying our project is that while users are searching for experiences (e.g., restaurant outings, vacations), online services only enable them to search based on objective non-experiential attributes. Voyageur introduces the idea of a subjective databases, which enable users to query directly for experiential aspects.


Alon Halevy was the CEO of Megagon Labs until December, 2018. Previously, Alon led the Structured Data Research Group at Google for 10 years and before that he was a professor of computer science at the University of Washington. Alon is a founder of Nimble Technology, and of Transformatic, Inc., which was acquired by Google in 2005. Alon is the author of two books: “The Infinite Emotions of Coffee” and “Principles of Data Integration.” Alon is an ACM Fellow, received the Sloan Fellowship and the PECASE Award. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1993.

The Helsinki Distinguished Lecture Series on Future Information Technology is organized by HIIT, a joint research institute between University of Helsinki and Aalto University. The series was launched in 2012.

The focus of the seminar series is to highlight the research challenges and solutions faced by current and future information technology, as seen by the internationally leading experts in the field.

Venues alternate between University of Helsinki and Aalto University, the two host universities of HIIT.

Web page: Helsinki Distinguished Lecture Series on Future IT

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