Strategic Computing: DARPA and the Quest for Machine Intelligence, 1983-1993

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This is the story of an extraordinary effort by the U.S. Department of Defense to hasten the advent of "machines that think." From 1983 to 1993, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) spent an extra $1 billion on computer research aimed at achieving artificial intelligence. The Strategic Computing Initiative (SCI) was conceived as an integrated plan to promote computer chip design and manufacture, computer architecture, and artificial intelligence software. What distinguished SCI from other large-scale technology programs was that it self-consciously set out to advance an entire research front. The SCI succeeded in fostering significant technological successes, even though it never achieved machine intelligence. The goal provided a powerful organizing principle for a suite of related research programs, but it did not solve the problem of coordinating these programs. In retrospect, it is hard to see how it could have.In Strategic Computing,Alex Roland and Philip Shiman uncover the roles played in the SCI by technology,individuals, and social and political forces. They explore DARPA culture, especially the information processing culture within the agency, and they evaluate the SCI's accomplishments and set them in the context of overall computer development during this period. Their book is an important contribution to our understanding of the complex sources of contemporary computing.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262182263
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2002
  • Series: History of Computing
  • Pages: 453
  • Sales rank: 1,089,515
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Roland is Professor of History at Duke University.

Philip Shiman is a member of the Defense Acquisition History Project, a government-sponsored team researching defense acquisition from 1945 to the present.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Chronology: Key DARPA Personnel during the Strategic Computing Program
List of Acronyms
Introduction 1
1 Robert Kahn: Visionary 13
Switching and Connecting 14
The Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) 21
AI Autumn 26
An Agent of Restoration 32
2 Robert Cooper: Salesman 39
The Pull of Robert Cooper 39
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) 42
An Agent of Transition 46
Testing the Market 56
The Pyramid as Conceptual Icon 63
Of Time Lines and Applications 71
3 Lynn Conway: Executor 83
Connecting with the Customer 83
The Divorce of the Dynamic Duo 95
Process and Personality 102
The Plight of the Program Manager 109
4 Invisible Infrastructure: MOSIS 117
The Transformation of Microelectronics 117
From VLSI to MOSIS 119
The Value Added 131
Public Good, Political Liability 136
Other Infrastructure 140
5 Over the Wall: The SC Architectures Program 149
The Connection Machine 149
The Wall 154
Stephen Squires, Human Agent 158
Defining the First Generation 165
Applying the Gray Code 174
6 Artificial Intelligence: The Search for the Generic Expert System 185
Artificial Intelligence (AI) 185
Expert Systems 190
IntelliCorp and Teknowledge 196
Managing Innovation 201
The Failure to Connect 206
The Rest of AI 208
7 Putting SC to Work: The Autonomous Land Vehicle 215
Crazy Walking War Machines 215
Working with Industry 222
The Tyranny of the Demonstration 229
The New Generation System 237
The ALV and Its Shadow 243
8 ISTO: The Middle Years of Strategic Computing, 1985-1989 251
Reconciling Form and Function 251
Reconciling Vision and Budget 261
Strategic Computing at Age Four 264
Waiting for the Wave 272
Strategic Computing 2 279
9 The Disappearance of Strategic Computing 285
The FCCSET Initiative 286
Connecting the Supercomputers 293
The Gap between Conception and Legislation 296
Fields and Boehm in the Last Ditch 302
The Politics of Change 310
Disconnecting the Last Veteran 314
10 Conclusion 319
Why? 320
How? 321
What? 325
Notes 333
Note on Sources 397
Index 405
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