By Alex Roland

The tale of the U.S. division of Defense's notable attempt, within the interval from 1983 to 1993, to accomplish laptop intelligence.

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

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DARPA Director Robert Cooper focused on other connections. He tied Kahn’s vision to the Reagan defense buildup of the early 1980s and then connected both to congressional concerns about the economic and technological challenge posed by Japan. He connected university researchers to industry, ensuring that the new knowledge developed in the program would “transition” to the marketplace. And he connected researchers and users, who were in this case the military services. Steven Squires, who rose from program manager to be Chief Scientist of SC and then director of its parent office, sought orders-of-magnitude increases in computing power through parallel connection of processors.

Any delay or disruption along the line and the whole message will be held up. An alternative scheme is to break the data cargo into small batches and ship these separately, by different routes. This might be likened to a cargo divided among trucks, which take different highways to their destination. The cargo can then be reassembled at the terminal. Each truck can find its way by the most open available route, taking detours if necessary to avoid bottlenecks and outages. 23 Simple in theory, packet switching is complicated in practice.

The appearance of, or at least the potential for, conflict of interest pervaded the early years of IPTO. Surprisingly, however, little criticism along these lines has ever surfaced. For one thing, the rules appropriate and necessary for a mature field do not always apply in the embryonic years when there are a few people struggling to create a niche. Furthermore, the contributions of Licklider and Sutherland were so profound, so fundamental, that few in the field appear inclined to quibble about their methods.

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