Further development and application of computer-assisted creativity to rural road resources management projects

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the part of computer science concerned with designing computer systems, that is, systems that exhibit the characteristics we associate with intelligence in human behavior--understanding language, learning, reasoning, solving problems, and so on. Many believe that insights into the nature of the mind can be gained by studying the operation of such programs. The AI concept has formed the basis for developing the computer-assisted creativity techniques called The Computer Consultant (TCC), and The Idea Machine (TIM).

TIM has, so far, been applied to topics in the engineering and "hard sciences" fields. In this study these techniques are presented/reviewed in detail and the research concentrated on the expansion/development of a methodology for computer—assisted creativity. This research will help in further evolution of TIM into a richer process for idea generation and general problem solving, and in enhancing the application capabilities. This is done by: (1) expanding the conceptual and ideas data bases from which analogies can be drawn; (2) conducting comprehensive trials with TIM to establish its strengths and limitations; and (3) doing research on techniques for the screening and packaging of ideas techniques.

Rural road projects are an important part of rural development programs in the Third World countries. For some years the construction of such road projects, funded in part by international donor agencies, has been a subject of some controversy. Most policy makers in the developing or underdeveloped countries support the practice of expanding the rural dirt (unpaved) roads rather than spending limited resources on maintenance. Some donor agencies are now inclined to only support maintenance-biased road projects.

A similar situation arose in Pakistan where the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) proposed to fund a road resources development project in the Sind Province. This real life situation is selected as a basis for developing a road resources management model, and generating ideas using TIM. These ideas are screened and packaged to be used in revising the model for further trials.

The application of TIM to this problem from the civil engineering field results in some useful outputs. This study provides a good basis for further enhancing TIM capabilities.