Scientists Utilizing New Funding To Develop Computers That Help Search Out the New Technologies
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have begun
work on a new Intelligence Advanced Research
Projects Activity (IARPA) project to develop computer
systems that help quickly identify emerging ideas and
capabilities in technology. The research is part of the IARPA
and Understanding from Scientific Exposition (FUSE) program
under a team led by BAE Systems that includes Brandeis
University, New York University, 1790 Analytics, and
Rensselaer. Rensselaer has received $510,000 to fund its
initial phase of the larger collaborative research project.
As noted in the FUSE
IARPA press release launching the program, the current
process to scan the horizon for new technologies is done
primarily with human hands and minds. The process is time
consuming and exhaustive, often only finding a technology well
after it has become engrained.
The computer and web scientists within the Tetherless World
Constellation at Rensselaer, led by Constellation Professor
Deborah McGuinness, will work with the FUSE team to help
automate portions of the technological process of identifying
emerging technologies. The team seeks to develop computational
programs that will quickly analyze millions and even billions
of pages of text for the emergence of new technological and
scientific trends. The end result will be a new tool that can
quickly scan collections of text in multiple languages for
arising ideas. The Rensselaer focus is on making the process
transparent and actionable.
“No one can keep up with the massive amount of data
currently out there even in one language, let alone in many
different languages,” McGuinness said. “This will allow us to
look at a far greater number of documents in less time to
understand the significant trends that are out there.
Once identified, these trends can then be better studied and
seized upon for further development and investment by human
analysts, McGuinness said.
The initial program will filter a huge assortment of
published scientific, technical, and patent literature. The new
system seeks to detect patterns or signatures that are
indicative of the emergence of a new idea, capability,
application, or even an entirely new field of study. The system
then prioritizes these patterns and nominates areas for
analytic exploration, according to McGuinness.
The research makes meaningful connections between the
various information found in its search, a skill that most
search engine technologies significantly lack, McGuinness said.
And it must do all this a million times over in mere seconds.
By doing so, the system can augment the work of human analysts
in their search for new technologies around the world,
according to McGuinness.
“We need to take this massive amount of largely unstructured
data and give it a defined structure for the analysts,”
McGuinness said. “Further, we need to provide systems that
tell users how they came to conclusions in order to allow users
to understand when and how to act on the information.”
To do this, the team will utilize semantic technology: a
particular strength of the Tetherless World Constellation
research group. The semantic technologies are used to encode
meaning and apply reasoning to the search process. The
technology literally tags information with meaning and other
information that the computer can read and then respond to. An
example would be tagging a particular scientific paper as
credible because it is published by a reputable scientific
publisher. That tag can then serve as an important reference
point for the machine as it continues its search and further,
the tag is open for inspection concerning how the program
tagged it and why. Rensselaer is providing the explanation and
semantic foundation components of the system.
McGuinness is joined in the research at Rensselaer by
co-principal investigator and Constellation Professor James
Hendler. Hendler is also the head of the information technology
and web science program. McGuinness is working closely with BAE
Systems as team leader and integrator, patent experts at 1790
Analytics, and linguistic experts from New York University and
Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Phone: (518) 276-6542