Friday, April 12, 2013

Artificial Intelligence Became Reality

I was awestruck by Lockheed’s talent and vision
by David S.

From 1966 until 1997, I worked in engineering at the Marietta plant. The highlight of my career was working on the Pilot's Associate (PA) program. I was asked to attend the organizational meeting for the PA proposal for the Air Force’s application to DARPA’s Strategic Computing Program. I walked into the meeting, and I was immediately in awe of the expertise in the room. There were experts in developing expert systems, staff from Skunk Works and people who could build intelligent user interfaces.

Each group discussed how it would support the project, and it was clear that we had all the elements to write a successful proposal except one. Finally, somebody asked who would integrate all this work together to make an intelligent system. Nobody spoke. I uttered my first words in the meeting, “Well, since Lockheed is the prime contractor, shouldn’t we lead that effort?”

We won the contract, and I was appointed the technical lead. Six years of whirlwind activity, enormous frustration, unbelievable creativity and finally the satisfaction of seeing the vision become a concrete reality. The final demonstration of the PA was praised both technically and by Air Force pilots.

On behalf of that tremendous team, in 1988, I accepted the AIAA Digital Electronics Award “in recognition of outstanding achievement in advancing the state-of-the-art of artificial intelligence and decision support systems into the complex, rapidly changing world of air combat."

We changed the face of combat.