8 October 1962
Proposal for Research
SRI No. ESU 62-85
AUGMENTED HUMAN INTELLECT STUDY
Douglas C. Engelbart
[personal signature of]
R.C. Amara, Manager
[personal signature of]
J.D. Noe, Director
Copy No. 12
Proposal for Research ESU 62-85
AUGMENTED HUMAN INTELLECT STUDY
a. Project Title: Augmented Human Intellect Study: Initial Testing and Refinement of the Conceptual Framework
b. Organization: Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, California
c. Principal Investigator: Douglas C. Engelbart
d. Total Estimated Cost: The total cost for one year of the proposed project's extension is $27,732. An equal amount of work in this field will be performed by the Institute as part of its General Research Program, or from support derived from external sources.
e. Preferred Starting Date and Estimated Duration: This proposal covers the extension of the present Contract AF 49(638)-1024 from1 March 1963 to 1 March 1964. Work would commence on the extension on 1 March 1963.
f. Brief: The proposed research is aimed at refining and developing in greater detail the initial conceptual framework for augmenting the human intellect. Selection from a range of experimental possibilities will be made so that the initial framework can both be influenced by and provide guidance to the experimental activity.
This is a proposal for continued support of the SRI Augmented Human Intellect program under Contract AF 49(638)-1024. The Directorate of Information Sciences of the AFOSR has provided two years of support at a level of $26,924 per year, on an equal matching basis with Stanford Research Institute. The proposed support would cover the period 1 March 1963 to 1 March 1964. To date, the developments under this support have almost exactly matched the goals as put forth in the two proposals EU 60251 (13 December 1960) and ESU 61-92 (12 June 1961). These goals may be
summarized as follows:
(1) First year --To develop a conceptual framework within which research on improving human intellectual effectiveness could be organized and pursued.
(2) Second Year --To continue improving the conceptual framework, and to begin directing the initiation of an experimental program.
The report which the Institute is soon to publish (the final draft of which has been read and approved by Mrs Swanson, the contract monitor) presents a rough but detailed picture of a conceptual framework which we feel to be adequate for our present needs The next step called for is (as laid out in our June 1961 proposal No. ESU 61-92) the initiation of experimental research to be carried out in conjunction with continued search.
The Institute has already acquired a CDC 160A computer to support the real-time experiments of several research activities, including this one. And in specific support of this program, SRI is in the process of acquiring the necessary man-computer communication devices to enable experimental exploration and evaluation of the concepts outlined in the above-mentioned report. These devices include a computer-driven character generator and cathode-ray-tube display system, and a working console equipped with the display and with flexible means such as a light-pen, keyboards, special keysets , push-buttons, switches, etc. , that enable the human to communicate to the computer.
Besides acquiring these facilities, and carrying half of the principal investigators time in cooperation with AFOSR, the Institute currently plans to support under its general research program approximately 1.4 additional men until January 1963 and tentatively 2 men thereafter, to get initial work under way. Also we are retaining Professor John McCarthy of Stanford 7University for part-time consultation in conjunction with this effort. The Institute soon will issue proposals to several agencies for additional support of the experimental research which has thus been initiated with joint Institute and AFOSR sponsorship.
The work proposed herein to AFOSR covers the search and basicguidance work that must be done in conjunction with the experimental work that we hope to get supported by another agency. But, in the event that no such support is obtained, the Institute could not guarantee sustaining support of more than its share of the principal investigator, in which case the character of the work to be done by the principal investigator in pursuit of the objectives of this program would be different. Thu s, this proposal presents descriptions of work for each of two possible conditions--with or without a suitable level of other support beside that contributed by AFOSR. In either event, real-time computer-based experimental facilities would be available.
The conceptual framework that we have developed seems to provide very good orientation toward the relative value of various next-step possibilities. There are some particular possibilities that we have left dormant for several years, because their relationship to the overall objective of the program has not been clear and because we felt it was most important to concentrate upon developing this conceptual framework. By early spring of 1962 we could see that one set of such possibilities would be well worth our time to pursue, and we submitted a proposal to the Psychological Sciences Division of ONR. A copy of this proposal, entitled "ManMachine Experiments" (ESU 62-39), is enclosed with this proposal for reference. This ONR group is undergoing managementpersonnel shifts, and has not yet made a decision. If they cannot support this work, there are some relatively simple experiments (described later) that would appear well worth the investment for AFOSR, and could be written up for publication. Also discussed are some experiments, using the real-time computer-based facilities, associated with the "microdocumentation" system discussed in the paper "Special Considerations of the Individual as a User, Generator, and Retriever of Information," by D. C. Engelbart, published in American Documentation, Vol. 129 No. 2 (April 1961). A copy of this paper is also enclosed for reference.
3. SUMMARY OF PREVIOUS WORK DONE
The objective of the augmented human intellect program is to improve the intellectual effectiveness of men in their pursuit of solutions to problems of society. During the past 18 months the major effort has been devoted to constructing a firm conceptual basis that will support a coordinated research and development program with the following general goals (1) to find the factors that limit the effectiveness of the human individual's basic information handling capabilities in meeting various problem solving needs of society; and (2) to develop new systems of techniques, procedures, tools, etc. that will better match the basic capabilities to the needs or problems of society.
As a result of this previous study a comprehensive report has been prepared that treats in considerable detail four principal aspects of the augmented human. These aspects are:
1. An hypothesis is stated that the intellectual effectiveness of the human can be significantly improved by an engineering-like approach toward redesigning changeable components of a system.
2. A conceptual framework is constructed that helps provide a way of viewing the implications and possibilities surrounding and stemming from this hypothesis. Briefly this framework provides the realization that our intellects are already "augmented" by means which appear to have the following characteristics:
(a) The principal elements are language, artifacts, and methodology that a human has learned to use.
(b) The elements are dynamically interdependent within an operating system.
(c) The structure of the system seems to be hierarchical, thus considered as an hierarchy of process capabilities whose primitive components are the basic human capabilities and the functional capabilities of the artifacts.
(d) The capabilities of prime interest are those associated with manipulating symbols and concepts in support of organizing and executing processes from which are ultimately derived human comprehension and problem solutions.
(e) The automation of the symbol manipulation associated with the minute-by-minute mental processes seems to offer a logical next step in the evolution of our intellectual capability.
3. A "picture" of the implications and promise of this framework is described based upon direct human communication with a computer. Here the many ways in which the computer can be of service at successive levels of augmented capabilities is brought out.
4. An approach has been outlined for testing the hypothesis of Item 1 and for pursuing the gains which may be realized. This approach is designed to rework from the bottom up and yet to seek practical augmentation systems for real-world problem solvers at a maximum rate. This goal is fostered by the recommendation of incorporating positive feedback into the research development, i.e., concentrating a good share of the basic research attention upon augmenting those capabilities in a human that are needed in the augmentation research workers. The real world applications would be pursued by designing a succession of systems for specialists whose progression corresponds to the increasing generality of the capabilities for which coordinated augmentation means have been evolved. Consideration is given in this rather global approach for providing potential users in different domains of intellectual activity with a basic general purpose augmentation system from which they themselves can construct the special features of a system to match their jobs and their way of working.
Besides the basic and general treatment presented in the foregoing report, there has been a growing effort aimed at developing the specific features of an experimental program whose general features are described in the report. In conjunction with this, Dr. Engelbart applied for participation in the 1962 Summer Institute on Heuristic Programming, sponsored by Carnegie Foundation and held at RAND from June 18 through July 27. From this Institute, some very good orientation was derived as to the approach to take for the computer programming in our experimental work.
Also, the feasibility of the CDC 160A has been established as an initial basis for our experimental work, and the basic plan for the communication equipment (display, light-pen, keysets, pushbuttons) and its initial layout into a flexible experimental station has been accomplished.
4. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of the proposed work are twofold. (1) to continue refining and modifying the conceptual structure that has been previously built so that long-range guidance can be provided to the accompanying experimental program; and (2) to embark on a program of experimentation based on the initial conceptual framework that has been previously developed on this contract for the augmentation of human intellect.
The proposed program for further research on augmented human intellect is intended as a natural extension and further development of the work that has been previously done. Although there are virtually limitless possibilities concerning the fruitful directions in which the program might proceed, the specific direction is highly dependent on the extent and nature of external support that will be provided. It is therefore convenient to divide these possibilities into two broad categories as follows:
It is assumed that no other sources (besides AFOSR) of external support have been obtained by the start of the next contract year (1 March 1963).
It is assumed that one or more other external sources of support have been obtained by the start of the contract year.
Each of these alternatives will be described and explored in greater detail in Sec. IV. C.
b. Experimental Facilities
In addition to the work that has been summarized in Sec. 3 of this proposal, Institute funds during the past year have been expended in preparing several proposals for pursuing succeeding stages of the research program. Essentially, these proposals are aimed at acquiring and setting up experimental facilities (display tubes, special keyboards, light guns, etc.) for carrying out a range of fundamental experiments in man/machine communication. Specific experimentation to be conducted is dependent on the variety and complexity of the equipment that will be obtained.
At the lowest and minimum level of equipment complexity are five-key keysets for performing initial experiments on binary signalling between man and machine and on developing techniques for automating the teaching of psychomotor skills. Two such keysets could be used directly with the present SRI CDC 160A to perform some simple feasibility tests on code combinations, data transfer, and the like. As a minimum such facilities are now available for experimentation at SRI.
At succeeding stages of complexity two classes of possibilities exist. In the first, through external support which may be available from ONR by March 1963, a complete system comprising two keysets, code converter, flexowriter, paper tape handler, etc. would exist for carrying out a complete program of experiments in the binary communication and psycho-motor skills area. In the second, through joint SRI-external support, would be available an initial system of input/output equipments comprising a cathode ray tube display, alphanumeric character generator, keyboard, light gun, etc. capable of use in a wide variety of experiments aimed at (1) testing the hypothesis that human capability for tackling difficult intellectual problems can be significantly improved by proper language, artifacts, and methodology, (2) getting started in developing the analytical tools and research techniques associated with taking an engineering system approach to improving a human's intellectual effectiveness, and (3) developing a prototype system for the real-time computer augmentation of a computer programmer.
c. Discussion of Proposed Alternatives
Whether other sources of external support are available or not (Alternative I or Alternative II), it is proposed that approximately one-half of the principal investigators efforts be devoted to continuing to develop and refine the initial conceptual framework for the augmented human intellect which has been developed so far. In particular a point has now been reached at which it is mandatory that a number of existing disciplines be examined carefully for possible contributions they might make to the tools and techniques to support our growing conceptual framework and the growing scope of the experimental work. It is unlikely that many ready-made tools exist for direct use, but some may be adapted for the particular needs of the program. The disciplines which may be considered leading candidates for this activity are: psychology, linguistics, computer programming, display techniques, artificial intelligence, industrial engineering, management science, operations analysis, and information retrieval. This component of the search activity will provide a sustaining momentum to the basic work required to support and be fed from the experimental work which will accompany it.
The manner in which the other half of the principal investigator's effort will be directed is dependent on whether Alternative I or Alternative II is pursued.
Alternative I (no other external support)
With a minimum of equipment (five key binary keysets, CDC 160A computer) enough work could be done to generate significant results for publication for both the binary communications means and the physical skill teaching schemes. The principal investigator could develop his skill to the point at which some of his own work could be done with the five-key keyset. A portable off-line tape writer might also be developed for taking notes, the output from this device could then be used for on-line manipulation on the CDC 160A. Input to the 160A would be through a typewriter in conjunction with a high-speed paper tape punch. Various manipulative processes could be programmed into the CDC 160A to permit textual editing and rearrangement. For example, it might be possible to specify the additions, deletions and changes to be made on an original draft. Then two paper tapes containing the original draft and the modifications might be fed into the computer which would then as an output produce a new draft tape. The keyset experiments and the off-line automation of some of the symbol manipulation processes can, of course, be done independently O These personal symbol manipulating techniques might be termed "development of an off-line computer aided micro-documentation system," the basis of which has been previously described in the Summary Report for AFOSR.
Alternative II (other sources of external support)
Under this alternative the other half of the effort of the principal investigator would be directed to providing technical direction and guidance to the specific experimental program being pursued. Two principal possibilities exist. In the first a program for initial study of man/machine binary communication and the teaching of psycho-motor skills would be pursued. As has been previously mentioned, a plan has been formulated and a proposal submitted (to ONR) for a complete series of experiments to explore possibilities and techniques. In the second, a comprehensive program would be undertaken to explore the possibilities for helping the task of computer programming by a system of real-time computer aids and associated working methods. If the conceptual hypothesis of the previous work is borne out by the results of the research and experimentation, a very considerable increase will result in the effectiveness of computer programmers over the gamut of conceptual work' program writing, documentation, maintenance, and training. In turn, the results achieved would provide significant feedback to modifying and refining the work on the initial conceptual framework for augmented human intellect.
6. STATEMENT OF WORK
Stanford Research Institute shall, during the period of time specified, furnish the necessary personnel, facilities, supplies, and materials to conduct research in the general field of augmented human
intellect studies and specifically shall investigate the following research items:
a. continue to refine and modify the initial conceptual structure that has been developed for the augmented human intellect;
b. embark on a program for the experimentation aimed at testing hypotheses and at developing new methods languages and artifacts for augmenting the human intellect.
7. ACCEPTANCE PERIOD
This proposal will remain in effect until 31 December 1962. If consideration of this proposal requires a longer period, the Institute will be glad to consider a request for an extension in time.
8. ESTIMATED TIME AND CHARGES
The estimated time required to complete this project and report its results is twelve (12) months. The estimated cost of this extension is $27,218. A cost breakdown is included in Sec. 10 of this proposal.
9. CONTRACT FORM
It is requested that any contract resulting from this proposal be awarded under Basic Agreement AF 33(657)-5052 between the United States Air Force and Stanford Research Institute.