Albus / NIST / RMA

From: Stephen Reed (
Date: Sat Jun 29 2002 - 22:59:22 MDT

Thanks to a tip from Ben I have looked into the Reference Model
Architecture developed by James S. Albus at NIST.

I now have three books:

Engineering of Mind (2001), James S. Albus & Alexander M. Meystel

Intelligent Systems (2002), Alexander M. Meystel & James S. Albus

The RCS Handbook (2001), Veysel Gazi and others (James S. Albus)

Engineering of Mind is an introduction, and Intelligent Systems is a
textbook for Albus' Reference Model Architecture (for artificial

At NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) this programming
framework is used for manufacturing automation and automated vehicles.

Very briefly Albus uses a feedback loop whereby actuators affect the
external environment, sensors detect salient data from the environment,
then sensory perception organizes and processes the sensed data. From
there the internal world model is updated and a value judgment component
assigns goodness to the perceptions and then reinforces associated
behavior. The behavior generation component computes commands to send to
the actuator - completing the loop.

The basic feedback loop is contained in a module (RCS-MODULE) that is a
member of a lattice of similar modules. Each module sends sensory
perception up the lattice and receives commands/tasks from above. The
lattice becomes a tree to achieve a particular high level goal.

The RCS software implementing James Albus' ideas can be downloaded from
NIST. This code is mostly an infrastructure for interprocess
communication and leaves out the planner and other sophisticated reasoning
elements that I would consider important for incorporating this code into

Instead, I am preparing an internal presentation for Cycorp to pitch this
design as one that Cycorp can re-implement in our own system -
substituting our reasoning and knowledge representation components for
those in RCS. Because this architecture is very different than what Cyc
now does, the success of my presentation is not assured. But I hope that
what results is a consensus plan to give Cyc additional intelligent

I recommend the Albus books, especially the Intelligent Systems text as an
ambitious attempt to extend a robotics control system into a generally
intelligent system. Albus and Meystel supply a great deal of background
material and make me believe that if the rest of the world does nothing,
then AGI may well come out of NIST.


Stephen L. Reed                  phone:  512.342.4036
Cycorp, Suite 100                  fax:  512.342.4040
3721 Executive Center Drive      email:
Austin, TX 78731                   web:
         download OpenCyc at

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