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All About Eve

Internet shoppers who have no salespeople to question often abandon their shopping carts-a vexing problem for e-tailers. Sunnyvale, Calif., EGain, a specialist in online customer service, hopes to create a completely different user experience with its interactive “chatterbot”-the EGain Assistant. The assistant consists of a conversational interface with an “avatar,” in this case an actress’s face that has been photographed in an array of expressions. If a shopper expresses frustration over an inability to find a product, the avatar, “Eve,” appears sympathetic and leads the confounded surfer to the information desired. If she can’t understand a request, Eve looks puzzled and asks questions until she figures out what the user wants-or determines that she can’t provide the answer. When she deems it necessary, Eve turns questions over to human customer service. EGain is developing assistants for several online merchants.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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