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Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory\RJohn McCarthy, Director
Stanford University\RLes Earnest, Assoc. Dir.
Stanford, California 94305
\F2\CARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND S.A.I.L.
\F1\JThis is a general article for answering inquiries about
artificial intelligence and the Stanford Artificial Intelligence
Laboratory. We hope it answers your questions.
Artificial intelligence\F0 is the name given to the study
of intellectual processes and how computers can be made to carry them
out. Most workers in the field believe that it will be possible to program
computers to carry out any intellectual process now done by humans.
However, almost all agree that we are not very close to this goal
and that some fundamental discoveries must be made first. Therefore,
work in AI includes trying to analyze intelligent behavior into more
basic data structures and processes, experiments to determine if
processes proposed to solve some class of problems really work, and
attempts to apply what we have found so far to practical problems.
The idea of intelligent machines is very old in fiction, but
present work dates from the time stored program electronic computers
became available starting in 1949. Any behavior that can carried out
by any mechanical device can be done by a computer, and getting a
particular behavior is just a matter of writing a program unless the
behavior requires special input and output equipment.
It is perhaps reasonable to date AI from A.M. Turing's 1950 paper .
Newell, Shaw and Simon
started their group in 1954 and the M.I.T. Artificial Intelligence
Laboratory was started by McCarthy and Minsky in 1958.
Early work in AI included programs to play games like chess and
checkers and kalah and go. The success of these programs was related
to the extent that human play of these games makes use of mechanisms
we didn't understand well enough to program. If the game requires only
well understood mechanisms, computers play better than humans. Kalah
is such a game. The best rating obtained in tournament play by a
chess program so far is around 1700 which is a good amateur level.
The chess programmers hope to do better.
Another early problem domain was theorem proving in logic. This
is important for two reasons. First, it provides another area in which
our accomplishments in artificial intelligence can be compared with
human intelligence. Again the results obtained depend on what intellectual
mechanisms the theorem proving requires, but in general the results have
not been as good as with game playing. This is partly because the
mathematical logical systems available were designed for proving
metatheorems about rather than for proving theorems in.
reason why theorem proving is important is that logical languages can
be used to express what we wish to tell the computer about the world,
and we can try to make it reason from this what it should do to solve
the problems we give it. It turns out to be quite difficult to express
what humans know about the world in the present logical languages or
in any other way. Some of what we know is readily expressed in natural
language, but much basic information about causality and what may happen
when an action is taken is not ever explicitly stated in human speech.
This gives rise to the \F1representation problem\F0 of determining what is
known in general about the world and how to express it in a form that
can be used by the computer to solve problems. As this is written -
summer 1973 - the representation problem seems to be the key problem
in artificial intelligence.
The results of current research in artificial intelligence is
published in the journal \F1Artificial Intelligence\F0, and in more
general computer science publications such as those of the ACM and
the British Computer Society. The ACM has a special interest group
on artificial intelligence called SIGART which publishes a newsletter.
Every two years there is an international conference on artificial
intelligence which publishes a proceedings. The fourth and most
recent was held in the U.S.S.R. at Tbilisi in the September 1975
and the proceedings are available .
Some current books and papers are listed at
the end of this writeup [3, 4, 5, 6]. The Stanford Artificial Intelligence
Laboratory has a series of research reports (A.I. Memos) which are included
in the reports put out by the Computer Science Department. One can
get on the list to receive announcements of reports by writing them .
A ten-year summary of SAIL research, including abstracts of all reports, is
available , as is a summary of more recent work .
We also have some 16mm films for loan .
\!cb(Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory);
SAIL was started in
1963 and moved to its present location at 1600 Arastradero Road, Palo
Alto in 1966. Since the beginning, our work has been mostly supported
by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Defense Department, but
we have also received support from the National Science Foundation, the National
Aeronautics and Space Agency, the National Institutes of Health,
and private foundations.
Our research goals include all areas of artificial intelligence,
mathematical theory of computation (the problem of specifying properties
of computer programs and proving that the programs meet their
specifications), studies in natural language, and studies in time-sharing
and other aspects of computer systems. However, the main work of the
laboratory since its inception has included the following:
1. \F1Computer vision.\F0 Images are obtained from a television camera
and are processed to describe the scene in ways appropriate
to the purpose of the program. These purposes include manipulation, driving
a vehicle, and simply checking our understanding of perceptual mechanisms.
2. \F1Manipulation\F0. Programs are developed to
assemble objects out of parts. For example, one system that we
developed assembles the water pump from a Model T Ford.
3. \F1Driving a vehicle.\F0 Experiments are continuing on a computer
controlled electric cart equipped with a television camera that attempts to
navigate both outdoors and with the building on the basis of visual information.
4. \F1Theorem proving.\F0 Programs using J. Alan Robinson's resolution
method of proving theorems in first order logic are used to prove theorems
in mathematics, to prove properties of computer programs, and to generate
computer programs having prescribed properties.
5. \F1Mathematical theory of computation.\F0 Methods for proving properties
of programs are developed. Programs for checking proofs in first order logic
and in a special logic of computable functions have been developed.
6. \F1Game playing.\F0 Some work in checkers, chess and go has been done,
but we are not active in this field at present.
7. \F1Speech recognition.\F0 Also inactive currently.
8. \F1Design Automation.\F0 Programs have been written to allow a computer
designer to put logic diagrams in the computer and diagrams for printed circuit
boards. An integrated system checks consistency of the various diagrams,
permits changes to be made easily, and produces output for the automatic
manufacture of printed circuit boards and for automatic wire wrapping machines.
A separate program allows the design of three dimensional objects and
their display in various views, and the simulation of their motion and
operation of joints.
9. \F1Natural Language Understanding.\F0 Programs are being developed to
"understand" and act upon information presented in the form of text in
English and other natural languages.
10. \F1Time-sharing Systems.\F0 There is also development of time-sharing
techniques especially for display-oriented systems.
11. \F1Affiliated Projects.\F0 There have been two independent projects
affiliated with SAIL in the areas of \F1psychiatric applications\F0 of computers
(recently moved to UCLA) and \F1computer music.\F0 The latter group has
developed computer simulations of acoustic spaces in which sound sources
can be placed at various locations, using quadraphonic techniques.
The computer facilities of the laboratory currently comprise PDP-10 and PDP-6
processors, 256K words of core, a swapping disk, a disk system for file storage
(capacity of 6.5 x 10\∩9\⊗ bits),
60 raster-type display terminals, and 6 vestor-type displays. The system
includes standard peripherals, including a plotter, a Xerox Graphics Printer,
A-D and D-A converters, a connection to
the ARPA network, and a few external phone lines.
There is also a PDP-11/45 system for controlling real-time devices, with
200k words of MOS and core memories and an SPS-41 processor. Connected to
the system are television cameras, mechanical arms, and (via radio links) a
computer controlled cart with a TV camera.
The personnel of the laboratory include faculty and students of the
Computer Science Department and a few other departments at Stanford
University, the professional staff, and some research associates.
Potential graduate students wishing to specialize in artificial intelligence
and do research in the laboratory should usually apply for admission to
the Computer Science Department at Stanford University. Potential research
associates should apply directly to the laboratory.\.
 Turing, A.M. \F3Computing Machinery and Intelligence, \F2Mind, \F01950.
Reprinted in J.R. Newman (ed.), \F2The World of Mathematics, \F0Vol.
4, p. 2099, Simon and Shuster, New York, (1956).
 \F2Advanced Papers of the Fourth International Joint Conference on
Artificial Intelligence, \F0September 1975. Available from Artificial
Intelligence Laboratory, 545 Technology Square, Room 817, Cambridge,
Massachusetts 02139, USA.
 Newell, Allen and Simon, Herbert A., \F2Human Problem Solving, \F0Prentice-Hall,
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey (1972).
 Nilsson, Nils, \F2Problem Solving Methods In Artificial Intelligence,\F0
McGraw-Hill, Inc. (1971).
 Nilsson, Nils, \F3Artificial Intelligence\F1 in \F2Proceedings IFIP Congress 1974,
\F0Stockholm, Sweden, (1974) and also \F0Artificial Intelligence Center Technical
Note #89, Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, California, (1974).
 Slagle, James R., \F3Artificial Intelligence: The Heuristic-Programming
Approach,\F0 McGraw-Hill, (1971).
 To obtain abstracts of recent Computer Science Reports, including A.I. Memos, write to:
Computer Science Department
Stanford, California 94305\F0
 Earnest, Lester, (ed.), \F3The First Ten Years of Artificial Intelligence Research at Stanford,
\F0Stanford A.I. Lab Memo AIM-228, July 1973. Available in microfiche only from
\F2Documentation Services \F0(address in letterhead), or in hard copy or microfiche as accession
No. ADA776233/9WC from:
\F2National Technical Information Service
Springfield, Virginia 22161\F0
 Earnest, Lester, (ed.), \F3Recent Research in Artificial Intelligence, Hueristic Programming,
and Network Protocols, \F0Stanford A.I. Lab Memo AIM-252, July 1974. Available in
microfiche from A.I. Lab (address in letter head) or in hard copy or microfiche
from N.T.I.S. (address just above ) as accession No. ADA002246.
 To request a list of films on A.I. Lab. research, write to:
Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab.
Stanford, California 94305