Bits & Bytes
SOFTWARE THAT SORTS THE WHITE HOUSE'S E-MAIL
As America's self-styled high-tech President, Bill Clinton wants to establish an on-line White House.
His Administration has worked with such services as America On-Line, CompuServe, and the Internet network to set up electronic forums where members can download position papers and leave electronic-mail messages. For now, though, the nearly 1,000 messages received daily are printed out and treated as paper mail.
To ease the paper avalanche, the Administration has turned to the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Under a pro bono contract, five MIT researchers are creating software that forwards e-mail to the electronic mailbox of the appropriate White House staffer. The first version, due later this year, will search for key words, such as "Medicare," and send back relevant policy statements. Using natural-language-recognition techniques, a later version would aim to glean the tone of each message, such as whether a writer is angry, and compile data on their attitudes.EDITED BY BART ZIEGLER