Invention as an Opportunistic Enterprise

This paper identifies goal handling processes that begin to account for the kind of processes involved in invention. We identify new kinds of goals with special properties and mechanisms for processing such goals, as well as means of integrating opportunism, deliberation, and social interaction into goal/plan processes. We focus on invention goals, which address significant enterprises associated with an inventor. Invention goals represent “seed” goals of an expert, around which the whole knowledge of an expert gets reorganized and grows more or less opportunistically. Invention goals reflect the idiosyncrasy of thematic goals among experts. They constantly increase the sensitivity of individuals for particular events that might contribute to their satisfaction.

Our exploration is based on a well-documented example: the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. We propose mechanisms to explain: (1) how Bell’s early thematic goals gave rise to the new goals to invent the multiple telegraph and the telephone, and (2) how the new goals interacted opportunistically. Finally, we describe our computational model, ALEC, that accounts for the role of goals in invention.

Invention as an Opportunistic Enterprise

by Marin Simina, Janet Kolodner, Ashwin Ram, Michael Gorman

19th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, Stanford, CA, August 1997
www.cc.gatech.edu/faculty/ashwin/papers/git-cs-97-04.pdf
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