"Ekran"-technology for collective of experts
V.A. Filimonov , Institute of Information Technologies and AppliedMathematics of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy ofScience
I. Prototyping and methodology
In this text we describe the complex process of creating intellectual environment (named "Ekran") for supporting of cooperative work of a group of experts. We consider that the fields of the competence of the experts differ essentially one from the other. Besides, we suggest that the group investigates some problems, relates to humanitarian knowledge: investment projects, policy organizations and so on. There are analogical projects, f. e. Intensely Supportive Learning Environment  and Inspiration .
We suppose, that at the first stage of any project have to be created special "rapid prototype" - the simplest version of the system with the most complex element of it . Then, although users can get useful information, it doesnt increase quality of their control of the object. So the problems were: to get the adequate resulting document (in order to mark the intermediate result of collective work) and to create the adequate system for transformation knowledge to action. At this stage methodology became the critical point of the project.
We follow, in general, the methodological school of G.P.Scshedrovitsky . We suppose, that realization even few of a great number of the results may be very useful. Many problems can be solved with the system analisys, but at first it needs to have an adequate system representation of the object and of the goals. The appropriate answer to this questions, especially in the case of social systems, may be found with methodological tools only. One of the main achievements of this methodology was the conception of the methodological scheme. Presense the position of actor (subject of action) and the appropriated method of utilization of just this scheme differs it from any other schemes. We use such schemes as "investigation" (see fig.1), "activity", "reflection" and many others.
The next great achievement of this school was invention and realization such sociocultural phenomenon as Methodological Game. The Game may be described (very approximately) as collective intellectual work with systematical using of methodology and psychotechniques to control of the discussions.
The main result of this process is the understanding of the importance of creating the adequate infrastructure, provides the actualization of knowledge (the ways to transform social knowledge to adequate social action). So "Ekran"-technology was created as the polyscreen environment, where the activity of the collective of experts has been organized by the special team (fig. 2): methodologist, game specialist and master of the polyscreen.
II. Computer Patterns
Patterns are very important part of the "Ekran"-technology. It shows how some tool may be used. Now we describe patterns, which demonstrates some possibilities of computer representation of knowledge.
The software base are the "Master" integrated system (like FrameWork-III) for representation of texts, spreadsheets, graphics, data base and some sort of prolog language - K-system (logical reasoning) for IBM PC. There is a possibility to make voice output of a text with FONEMAFON software and hardware. The ordinary screen of IBM PC serves us as a propotype of a really large polyscreen. The information base consists of descriptions of different types of knowledge (logical schemes, sets of statistical data, precedents) in different forms (hypertexts, texts as an artistic work, pyctography, calculations models, cognitive graphics). Computer simulation carry out in a widespread form of difference equations , and allows to create diagrams and two-dimentional graphics. There were some methodological schemes for such concepts as "activity", "reflexy", "policy". In addition to the ordinary using of texts special forms of text representing may occur very useful. In our projects were used such forms as pamphlets, verses and anekdotes.
We emphasize the usefullness of creation of a set of images ("knowledge is the image of information, wisdom is the image of knowledge"). There is a possibility to create dynamic figures like Chernoffs faces as adequate images of some multifactors processes (f.e. social tension in a region, values of financial streams and so on). Methods of cognitive graphics may occur here very useful.
In the "Ekran"-system there is an example of the technology of creating the computer form of a document. The Desicion of the Goverment of Russia concerning the order of bankruptcy of enterprises has been transformed into two tables of decision (spreadsheets).
There is a possibility to represent the spectrum of the experts estimations of а given set of parameters. Such representation uses, in particular, for forecasting of socio-economical development. The program of logical reasoning (K-system) uses to demonstrate to experts the possibility of the searching of nearest and remote consequences in the chains of events. The chains forms from the set of production rules such as "i f A t h e n B". The logical nets of events, which may form the cause of some another events, gives the opportunity to build interesting models of social processes .
Documents are rather important result of human activity. Therefore we try to reveal the skeleton of social programmes, specifications and so on. We use the set of patterns to deTERMINe the objects, and, quite the opposite, to make the determinations more fuzzy. So our documents consists of several stratums. We use also, of course, AI methods: frames, semantical nets and so on.
III. Creative Thinking and Human Factors
The procedures of creative thinking based on G.S.Altschullers Theory of Decision of Inventors Problems . However, it orients to technical sphere, and needs some modifications for social applications. We often use inversion the meanings of the slots of given frame representation of social situation. Very interesting possibilities opens the interpretation of some figures as a logical progammes of making conclusions about relations of the elements of some system . This technique is the process of combining ancient Chinese medicine achievements and new branch of cybernetics - homeostatics .
The next component of technology has been taken from NLP . The experts have some "shady" knowledge about "shady" processes (f.e. economic life of region). Creation and modifications some schemes without their content interpretation gives the opportunity to investigate such processes. In addition may be used the randomized interrogatory method. Forms of communication depends of the type of perconality [4,9] and competence. This factors may be tested and the results may be used for monitoring of the given collective of experts. For this purpose there is the screen "mirror" of polyscreen (see fig. 2).
IV. Resource, Application and Future
The most difficult problem is to extract knowledge from experts and to transform it for some computer program standart. The lucky chance for the "Ekran" was the special arranged methodological game (some sort of non-stop scientific conference), that had taken place in Omsk (November 1990). More than 200 specialists and managers had made the examination of problems of Omsk during two weeks. The stenographic report consists of more than 1500 pages. The chief of the game - S.V.Popov, the President of Interregional Methodological Association, Moscow - had made possible to understand how and which the different points of view may exists. This material is the background of the "Ekran". It contains about 40 topics such as "Concepts", "Culture", "Policy" and so on, about 700 logical conclusions in the form "i f A t h e n B", 1500 precedents and 2500 conclusions in the form "it have to (make, destroy and so on)".
The method and "Ekran"-technology had been used in Omsk for creating investment projects. The process of application may be described as follows. During the investigation the authors of the projects (in company of the author of the "Ekran") creates more detailed representation of the problem (determinations, concept, the reglament of discussion). They uses the possibilities of system (schemes, blueprints, formulations). The main results of this investigation were used for creating of some new components of educational processes. In Omsk State University have been elaborated the course "Expert systems" for students of the mathematical faculty. In Omsk educational center "INFRA" have been elaborated the course "The foundations of an analytical investigation" for financial managers. The students gets some training in the process of "packing" of the given information to the forms of schemes and models.
The new stage of the project demands new versions of all the components of the infrastructure: investigations, applications, education. We intend to use some system of pattern recognition to create the set of patterns of social situations, and to make all the processes more active and creative by using some sociotechnique.
Altschuller G.S. Creativity as Exact Science.- Moscow// Sovetskoye radio. 1979 (in Russian).
Astafyev V.I., Gorsky Yu.M., Pospelov D.A. Homeostatics//Cybernetics and Applied Systems. New York, 1992. P. 7 - 22.