Information & Communication

Artificial Intelligence

Technical Applications


The aim of the discipline of artificial intelligence (AI) is to permit computers to act in such a manner that, if a human acted similarly, his or her actions would be considered intelligent behavior. It embraces such fields as voice recognition; pattern and image recognition; "expert systems" containing numerous rules of behavior that act according to those rules; control of robots and similar devices; game playing; neural nets and genetic algorithms that learn patterns of behavior from examples, feedback and (in the case of genetic algorithms) mutation to produce new solution strategies or possibilities.


The definition of AI is constantly evolving. Computer behavior that used to appear intelligent, once understood and more commonplace, tends to become regarded as merely programming; examples include list processing and logic systems capable of deduction. Therefore, in practice, AI is often regarded (at least by its aficionados) as the cutting edge of computer science, where programming of computer behaviors is attempted that has not been done before, or whose logic and structure are as yet poorly understood.


Artificial intelligence is important to U.S. economic goals precisely because it embodies much of advanced computer science--pushing the limits of what computers are capable of. Within AI, novel programming and computer architecture techniques are discovered that, in turn, can lead to export and patent advantages. (As recognition of this, Japan has embarked on a variety of advanced computing initiatives, such as the "Fifth Generation" program that had very explicit artificial intelligence-related goals and aspirations.) AI is vital to U.S. security interests because computer-based intelligence is needed to process the huge volumes of satellite photography and other signals intelligence, looking "intelligently" for patterns of interest within vast signals databases. Advanced pattern recognition and interpretation is also vital to the smart weapons that can provide pinpoint accuracy and thus save the lives, sorties, and munitions required to deliver "dumber" weapons.


A study of knowledge-based systems (KBS) in Japan, sponsored by ARPA and NSF and published in May, 1993, concluded that the U.S. was ahead or about even with Japan in about the same number of areas as the number of areas in which the U.S. was lagging.