The Role of Intelligent Systems in the National Information Infrastructure

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The Role of Intelligent Systems in the National Information Infrastructure

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

Edited by Daniel S. Weld, University of Washington


Joe Marks, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories

Daniel G. Bobrow, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center


Executive Summary



1. Introduction

1.1 Technical Challenges

1.1.1 Ease of Use

1.1.2 Flexible Infrastructure

1.1.3 Powerful Development Tools

1.2 Recommendations

2. The Role of Intelligent Systems

2.1 Intelligent Interfaces

2.1.1 Integration and Expressivity Machine Perception Automatic Explanation

2.1.2 Goal Orientation and Cooperation

2.1.3 Customization and Adaptivity

2.1.4 Virtual Reality, Telepresence, and Interface Immersion

2.2 Information Infrastructure Services

2.2.1 Data and Knowledge Management Services Heterogeneous Data Scalability

2.2.2 Integration and Translation Services

2.2.3 Knowledge Discovery Services

2.3 System Development and Support Environments

2.3.1 Rapid System Prototyping Specification and Refinement Support Services Software and Knowledge Library Support Services

2.3.2 Intelligent Project Management Aids Collaboration and Group Software Problem Solving and System Design Environments

2.3.3 Distributed Simulation and Synthetic Environments

3. Research Thrust Areas

3.1 Knowledge Representation

3.1.1 Relevance to the NII

3.1.2 State of the Art

3.1.3 Research Opportunities

3.2 Learning and Adaptation

3.2.1 Relevance to the NII

3.2.2 State of the Art

3.2.3 Research Opportunities

3.3 Reasoning about Plans, Programs, and Action

3.3.1 Relevance to the NII

3.3.2 State of the Art

3.3.3 Research Opportunities

3.4 Plausible Reasoning

3.4.1 Relevance to the NII

3.4.2 State of the Art

3.4.3 Research Opportunities

3.5 Agent Architecture

3.5.1 Relevance to the NII

3.5.2 State of the Art

3.5.3 Research Opportunities

3.6 Multiagent Coordination and Collaboration

3.6.1 Relevance to the NII

3.6.2 State of the Art

3.6.3 Research Opportunities

3.7 Ontological Development

3.7.1 Relevance to the NII

3.7.2 State of the Art

3.7.3 Research Opportunities

3.8 Speech and Language Processing

3.8.1 Relevance to the National Information Infrastructure

3.8.2 State of the Art

3.8.3 Research Opportunities

3.9 Image Understanding and Synthesis

3.9.1 Relevance to the National Information Infrastructure

3.9.2 State of the Art

3.9.3 Research Opportunities

4. Conclusions

Executive Summary       

The National Information Infrastructure (NII) will have profound effects on the lives of every citizen. It promises to deliver to people in their homes and offices a vast array of information in many forms, changing the ways in which business is conducted, offering new educational opportunities, bringing geographically dispersed library resources and entertainment materials to everyone’s doorstep. It will connect people to people, and help them with their jobs and tasks.

For the NII to be useful, however, people will need easy and efficient access to its resources. Today’s computers are complex and difficult to use, even for experts. The NII will be orders of magnitude more complex than current systems; it could easily become a labyrinth of databases and services that is inconvenient for experts and inaccessible to many Americans.

The field of artificial intelligence (AI) can play a pivotal role in meeting major challenges of the NII. AI uses the theoretical and experimental tools of computer science to study the phenomena of intelligent behavior. The field not only addresses a profound scientific problem, but also develops practical technology for constructing intelligent systems. AI research has produced an extensive body of principles, representations, and algorithms. Successful AI applications range from custom-built expert systems to mass-produced software and consumer electronics. AI techniques can play a central role in the development of a useful and usable National Information Infrastructure (NII) because they offer the best alternative for addressing three key challenges.

First, AI technology can help make computers easier to use. It will support the development of computer interfaces that collaborate with users to meet their information needs. These interfaces will handle multiple modalities including natural language, gestures, graphics, and animation and will be able to employ whichever modality best suits a particular user request. The interfaces will operate as intelligent agents, allowing users to state what they want accomplished and automatically determining the actions required to satisfy these needs and when to perform them. Over time, these intelligent agent systems will build a model of the user’s needs and will adjust automatically to an individual’s skills and pattern of usage.

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