Researchers are designing computer systems aimed at amplifying human thought and perception. In this well-documented article, "Artificial intelligence meets good old-fashioned human thought," Science News gives us glimpses about the future of artificial intelligence (AI).
Our first example comes from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. They are developing a new type of cockpit display for aircraft pilots that exploits the power of peripheral vision. Its name is OZ.
IHMC's David L. Still has directed work on the OZ cockpit-display system over the past decade. "OZ decreases the time it takes for a pilot to understand what the aircraft is doing from several seconds to a fraction of a second," Still says. That's a world of difference to pilots of combat aircraft and to any pilot dealing with a complex or emergency situation.
The system computes key information about the state of the aircraft for immediate visual inspection. The data on the six or more gauges in traditional cockpits are translated by OZ software into a single image with two main elements. On a dark background, a pilot sees a "star field," lines of bright dots that by their spacing provide pitch, roll, altitude, and drift information. A schematic diagram of an airplane's wings and nose appears within the star field and conveys updates on how to handle the craft, such as providing flight path options and specifying the amount of engine power needed for each option. Other colored dots and lines deliver additional data used in controlling the aircraft.
Here is an image of OZ showing an aircraft ready to land. The runway is represented by the green dots (Credit: David L. Still, IHMC).
Now, let's look at another example of IHMC's projects, concept maps, developed by Alberto Canas, IHMC's associate director, and his colleagues.
Concept-mapping software developed by Canas and his colleagues provides a way for people to portray, share, and elaborate on what they know about a particular subject. Concept maps consist of nodes -- boxes or circles with verbal labels -- connected by lines with brief descriptions of relationships between pairs of nodes. Clicking on icons that appear below the nodes opens related concept maps or a link to a relevant Web site.
For instance, scientists at NASA's Center for Mars Exploration created a Mars concept map. A red box at the top contains the words "Exploring Mars" and connects to boxes arrayed below it, with labels such as "Search for Evidence of Life" and "Human Missions." Icons positioned below the boxes link to a variety of Mars-related Web sites.
Here is what it looks like (Credit: NASA).
For more information about the subject, visit Getting Started with Concept Mapping.
And if you have some interest in AI, this article is a must-read. It contains the description of other projects and includes many links and references.
Source: Bruce Bower, Science News Online, August 28, 2003
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