FCW Time Machine: 1988

Kick-starting artificial intelligence

The director of the Army's Artificial Intelligence Center, Lt. Col. Anthony Anconetani, was thrilled in June 1988 to be developing expert systems using computers based on Intel's powerful new 80386 processor. The center had at least four artificial intelligence projects under way when Federal Computer Week reporter Fred Reed talked to Anconetani. Here is how Reed described them.

  • Document Designer was formerly known in-shop as Organize the World, or OT World. Document Designer takes a file that shows manpower authorization figures for an organization and turns it into a wiring diagram showing relationships among organizations and suborganizations.

  • The program is mouse-driven, so any suborganization can be instantly expanded to show its components at various levels of organization. At each level, staffing is shown. To change the organization, people can use the mouse to drag units to a new place on the wiring diagram, whereupon all staffing levels affected by the change automatically adjust. Further rules can be incorporated so that, for example, a colonel should not work for another colonel. Violations are flagged.

  • OT War takes as its input files showing force structure, as well as data on equipment and operational plans. It correlates these to show where units are, what kind of equipment they have and what their situation will be in the future.

  • In time of war, the program will help determine the sequence for feeding units into combat by keeping track of such variables as readiness and status of equipment. It eventually will be able to catch impossibilities that plague military operations, such as trying to send the same unit to two places at once.

  • A model of the Army's Automated Combat Control System (ACCS) down to battalion level will help the service decide the most efficient way to allocate money and effort in the development of ACCS. For example, completing one part of ACCS may depend on having first completed another one, which may in turn depend in complicated ways on yet other factors.

  • Force Alignment Planner, a knowledge-based program, relates force structure to the pool of military personnel with an eye to maintaining career paths that will keep people in the Army. Among other things, the program will keep tabs on those jobs --such as military intelligence, signal corps and quartermaster corps -- in which there are more jobs than qualified people. To make matters worse, the scarcity of people is greater at higher ranks, where demand is consequently greater. The Force Alignment Planner should help make decisions about retraining people for unfilled jobs and in recruiting to fill vacancies.

  • The Physical Disability Rating Adviser is an expert system that recommends the percentage of disability that should be assigned to patients. This program, according to Anconetani, has been validated with a group of 20 case histories of patients suffering from psychiatric disorders, and further validation of more than 200 case histories is in progress. The result, he said, is an improvement in consistency in awarding disability.
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