Team Of Ornl “Agents” Working To Keep People Safe
Unearthing information that could signal a threat to national security by combing the Internet, satellite images, newspapers, and electronic databases is the job of thousands of intelligent software “agents” created by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Thomas Potok with the lab’s Computational Sciences & Engineering Division likens the agents’ task to “having a stack of 100,000 pages and having to find the 20 pages that contain information critical to national security.” He explains that the behavior of intelligent agents is being patterned after natural and biological models such as flocks of birds, schools of fish, and natural selection.
Potok envisions military scenarios for the agents in which they collate and instantly analyze information from multiple sources, rank the data according to importance, and relay it to commanders or command centers.
Potential homeland security applications include connecting surveillance cameras and agents in order to detect threats, as represented by changes to the scene or objects that seem out of place.
Issues that still need to be addressed include developing agents that can simulate brain functions more closely, and devising a way for vast numbers of agents to communicate with each other and people.
Potok expects the agents to become more skilled and sophisticated as ORNL’s computing power grows. “Ultimately, our goal is to be able to detect an imminent threat that no one has been able to see with conventional methods,” he notes.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Newswise (06/17/04) .