Good Morning, Dave . . .
The Defense Department is working on a self-aware computer.
Computerworld - Any sci-fi buff knows that when computers become self-aware, they ultimately destroy their creators. From 2001: A Space Odyssey to Terminator, the message is clear: The only good self-aware machine is an unplugged one.
We may soon find out whether that's true. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is accepting research proposals to create the first system that actually knows what it's doing.
The "cognitive system" DARPA envisions would reason in a variety of ways, learn from experience and adapt to surprises. It would be aware of its behavior and explain itself. It would be able to anticipate different scenarios and predict and plan for novel futures.
"It's all moving toward this grand vision of not putting people in harm's way," says Raymond Kurzweil, an artificial intelligence guru and CEO of Kurzweil Technologies Inc. in Wellesley Hills, Mass. "If you want autonomous weapons, it's helpful for them to be intelligent."
Cognitive systems will require a revolutionary break from current computer evolution, which has been adding complexity and brittleness as it adds power.
"We want to think fundamental, not incremental improvements: How can we make a quantum leap ahead?" says Ronald J. Brachman, director of DARPA's Information Processing Technology Office in Arlington, Va. Brachman will manage the agency's cognitive system initiative.
The goal is to create systems that take better care of themselves, and some manufacturers have already made small advances, Brachman points out. Software that tests itself automatically is a step in the right direction. So is software that walls itself off to avoid taking down the larger system in case it crashes.
Add advances in speech recognition and machine learning, and there may be enough "bits and pieces" to achieve the critical mass necessary for a real breakthrough, Brachman says.
"You get enough really smart people working on a really hard problem, and you get outcomes you didn't really expect," he adds. "We're hoping for a little serendipity."
They'll need it. The problems to be addressed are nearly as imposing as the dream. For example:
How can a cognitive system learn from experience and use what it has learned to cope with new situations?
How can it prioritize "standing orders," given complex and conflicting goals?
How can it recognize important low-frequency events among the huge amounts of data in its "experience?"
How can it use context to decipher complex actions, events and language?
Despite the challenges, Brachman is undaunted. "DARPA is about looking out of the box, the big reach," he says. "If we succeed, we can change the world in very dramatic ways."
Kurzweil agrees. "DARPA research tends
- HTTP Status Code Cheat Sheet Look at the Graph, Find the Code and Boom - You're Solving Problems. Identifying and understanding common HTTP status codes can go a...
- 10 Steps to Application and Network Performance Nirvana 10 simple steps that network operations teams can take to ensure that applications and underlying infrastructure can both be tuned for maximum performance.
- Application Performance Management for Dummies Application performance management helps deliver the application performance users and the business demand. Effectively monitoring and troubleshooting application performance issues requires a comprehensive...
- IDC Report: Optimize IT and Business Gains This IDC Whitepaper outlines how CIOs can understand what the "total cost of data" is across their entire organization and how Delphix can...
- Live Webcast 5 Steps to Assuring Quality of Experience In order to align monitoring and management practices with the true demands of the business, IT professionals must expand beyond traditional comfort zones...
- Live Webcast Master the Changing SAP Landscape with Performance Management SAP landscapes are not getting simpler. Gradually, business processes that used to be contained on a single SAP system now involve a range...
- Accelerate your innovation with IBM Bluemix™ Join us for a webcast introducing the new IBM BluemixTM. IBM Bluemix (www.bluemix.net) is a developer oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment...
- Maximizing Availability for the Modern Data Center Check out this information-packed resource center for help in maximizing the availability of your data center - from overcoming challenges to choosing the...