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Connecting a Hoover to a personal information bank

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Its CEO was John Forbes, a 20-year vet of the software industry and the two professors above. These were VP of Engineering Dr Jon Herlocker, co-inventor of technology commercialized by Net Perceptions, a pioneering company in collaborative filtering technology and Chief Scientist Dr Tom Dietterich, then the president of the International Machine Learning Association. The Smart Desktop team is based in Seattle too, and is run as a separate operation within Pi, now Decho, with Forbes as its president.

At the time Herlocker said: "Everyone knows how frustrating it can be when you’re trying to locate files on your computer or network. Our software automatically organizes information in a way that is more natural for a person rather than a computer – learning what files, email messages, contacts and other information go with which projects.

“So when you need to switch to a different project, you can instantly bring up all that information associated with the project. This is going to revolutionize the way people and computers interact. Pi Corporation felt that this technology was so valuable they wanted not only to invest in it, but to own it."

Pi has said that it aims to create "innovative online services that make it easy for individuals to gather information, organize it, share it instantly and securely, and access it from any web-based device. Pi users are not required to set up servers, explicitly copy or upload information, or surrender control of their personal information to an online hosting company. Pi is currently (2006) in limited beta test with its first product and will expand its offerings over the coming months."

John Forbes said at the time: "Combining forces with Pi Corporation will accelerate the development of our products for information workers, and we can take advantage of Pi's innovative technology for securely sharing information across networks. With Pi's offerings for consumers and Smart Desktop's solutions for information workers, we plan to develop a consistent information management platform for computer users worldwide."

Maritz offered this thought: "With Smart Desktop's innovative technology, the computer can start to think like a person and organize things in a way that makes sense to human beings. This capability will help Pi fulfil its mission of helping people organize their information in better ways, and make their information available, any time, anywhere without compromising security or privacy, and without being bound forever to a single mega-online provider."

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