20Q, who are you?
Okay, in twenty questions or less, what do you remember about those
interminable road trips of your youth? Arguing with a sibling may be your number one answer, but it's likely you played a few rounds of the classic word game Twenty Questions.
You can relive your youth, or discover this great game by playing 20Q on the Web against an artificial intelligence foe (www.20Q.net). You think of something, and the A.I. will try to guess the object you have in mind.
This experiment in artificial intelligence is the brainchild of software developer and entrepreneur, Robin Burgener, and it has been learning since 1988. Mr. Burgener, based in Ottawa, Canada, first developed the software to satisfy
his own curiosity about learning systems and the A.I.'s first home was a 5 1/4? floppy disk, passed around to friends to help it learn. It moved to the 20Q.net website in 1995, where millions of players from around the world come to play the
game. And the more people play, the more the game "learns." 20Q started out knowing one object, a cat, and knew one question. 20Q.net sees more than 50,000,000 impressions a month and played its 44,000,000th game in September 2006! 20Q is right
76 percent of the time (98 percent of the time if you let it ask 25 questions)!
20Q.net Inc. is built on the foundation of the fun associated with the classic word game. It has wide appeal, and is educational and entertaining on many
levels. Some players are simply looking for a compelling word game, some want to help teach the A.I., thereby assisting with the experiment; others are interested in exploring the technology. Players become "addicted" to the game, and the 20Q
A.I. learns from their collected knowledge, somewhat like a folk taxonomy.
In 2003, Radica Games Ltd. licensed the technology and launched their pocket version of the 20Q A.I. Equally addictive, the pocket version has already proven
itself to be a best-seller. Radica manufactures, markets and distributes the full range of the electronic handheld pocket and tabletop 20Qs. And if those toys don't say 20Q, they're not the real deal.
20Q is now learning in 20 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Turkish, Czechoslovakian, Arabic, Greek, Polish
and Hungarian, and is set to begin learning more languages in 2006. Pocket versions of the German, French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese versions are now available now. Specialty editions 20Q Rock and Pop, 20Q Sports, 20Q Movies, 20Q
T.V. and 20Q Junior will be available in the fall of 2006 and the spring of 2007.
Mobile 20Q, for the cell phone was launched in North America by licensee I-play, in November 2005.
A new mobile version was released in April 2008 by Digital Chocolate (dchoc.com). A branded version of the 20Q A.I. website was licensed to Burger King Corporation in 2005 (sithsense.com) as a marketing tie-in to the Star Wars film, Revenge of
the Sith. RTL interactive GmbH, of Germany has also licensed a branded version of the game.
20Q has evolved from an experiment in artificial intelligence into a software development firm, building products on the capabilities of the
A.I. and its knowledgebase. 20Q is an artificial intelligence, a website, a company, a game, and a phenomenon. It first gained popularity as an online game. Now 20Q has evolved and is ready for new challenges and new applications. You think of
something, 20Q has the answer.
What others are saying about 20Q On June 5, 2005, Lynn Petrak of the Chicago Tribune had this to say about 20Q in its feature "Game for some road-trip fun?": "[20Q] is amazing. And addictive."
And the April, 2005, Toronto Star had this to say: "A toy with attitude. Any questions? ... And it can read your mind. [20Q] is the latest addictive must-have toy phenomenon."
In February of 2004, Charles Harold of The New York Times had this to say about the pocket version licensed by Radica Games: "If you're like me, you may feel a bit unnerved when a children's toy appears to read your mind, but ... 20Q does
something very much like that."
And, in a March 2003 review of the website, Pamela LiCalzi O'Connell, also of the The New York Times noted: "[The inventor] Mr. Burgener is exploring commercial applications for his program, including using
it to gather information about the people who visit a company's Website. Seems you can learn a lot about people from how they play the game."
In 1998, the Tech Museum of Innovation had this to say about the 20Q A.I.: "Intriguing, educational,
and sometimes downright spooky!"
Use your favorite internet search engine to read hundreds' more 20Q reviews.
adaptable, scalable, modular, embeddable ... addictive?
Winner of the Canadian Toy Testing Council's Energizer Toy of the Year, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, a United Kingdom Toy Retailers Association Award, and an Oppenheim Platinum Toy Award
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