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Calendar.help: Designing a Workflow-Based Scheduling Agent with Humans in the Loop

Abstract · Mar 24, 2017 14:40 ·

cs-hc cs-ai cs-cl

Arxiv Abstract

  • Justin Cranshaw
  • Emad Elwany
  • Todd Newman
  • Rafal Kocielnik
  • Bowen Yu
  • Sandeep Soni
  • Jaime Teevan
  • Andrés Monroy-Hernández

Although information workers may complain about meetings, they are an essential part of their work life. Consequently, busy people spend a significant amount of time scheduling meetings. We present Calendar.help, a system that provides fast, efficient scheduling through structured workflows. Users interact with the system via email, delegating their scheduling needs to the system as if it were a human personal assistant. Common scheduling scenarios are broken down using well-defined workflows and completed as a series of microtasks that are automated when possible and executed by a human otherwise. Unusual scenarios fall back to a trained human assistant who executes them as unstructured macrotasks. We describe the iterative approach we used to develop Calendar.help, and share the lessons learned from scheduling thousands of meetings during a year of real-world deployments. Our findings provide insight into how complex information tasks can be broken down into repeatable components that can be executed efficiently to improve productivity.

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