Developing a Knowledge Engineering Capability in the TRW Defense Systems Group

  • Edward C. Taylor


The TRW Defense Systems Group develops large man-machine networks that solve problems for government agencies. Until a few years ago these networks were either tightly-coupled humans loosely supported by machines -- like our ballistic missile system engineering organization, which provides technical advice to the Air Force, or tightly-coupled machines loosely controlled by humans- like the ground station for the NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. Because we have been producing first-of- a kind systems like these since the early 1950s, we consider ourselves leaders in the social art of assembling effective teams of diverse experts, and in the engineering art of conceiving and developing networks of interacting machines. But in the mid-1970s we began building systems in which humans and machines must be tightly coupled to each other-systems like the Sensor Data Fusion Center. Then we found that our well-worked system development techniques did not completely apply, and that our system engineering handbook needed a new chapter on communication between people and machines. We're still writing that chapter, and it won't be finished until we can add some not-yet fully developed artificial intelligence techniques. Nevertheless, we learned some lessons worth passing along.
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