Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI)

A New Initiative at the National Science Foundation

Earlier this year, Vice President Gore in a series of speeches introduced the metaphor "distributed intelligence" to describe an emerging era of communication, access to information, and data accumulation and manipulation that is unprecedented. Following up on these ideas, Dr. Joseph Bordogna, Acting Deputy Director of NSF said: "To pursue these kinds of emerging opportunities, NSF is exploring frameworks for the development and deployment of new ideas and technologies for research, education and for society as a whole...". In order to fulfill this goal, NSF has requested funding for an agency-wide initiative called "Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence."

"The vision of the Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI) initiative is to achieve, across the scientific community, the next generation of human capability to:

  • Gather and represent more complex and cross-disciplinary scientific data and information from new sources, and at enormously larger scales;
  • Transform this information into knowledge by combining, classifying, and analyzing it in new ways; and
  • Collaborate ingroups and organizations, sharing this knowledge and working together interactively across space, time, disciplines, and scientific cultures to multiply results.
  • The KDI strategy is to support research that:

  • Generates greater understanding of phenomena of distributed intelligence and collective behavior, automated and natural systems;
  • Creates the next generation of mathematical, computational, data-oriented, and organizational methods and infrastructure, which will exploit multidisciplinary distributed intelligence to advance science and engineering;
  • Enhances human ability to use knowledge in groups, organizations, and communities through advances in human infrastructure, technology, and education.
  • This initiative is an intellectual focus for collaborative, multidisciplinary thinking on three complimentary aspects of knowledge and distributed intelligence:

  • Increasing interaction, knowledge/tool integration, collaboration, and understanding within communities and across disciplines through Knowledge Networking (KN);
  • Extending the power of tools, models, and simulations to present and manage complex systems through New Challenges in Computation (NCC); and
  • Extending our ability to learn and create through Learning and Intelligent Systems (LIS)."
  • As a complementary component of the KDI initiative, NSF is also seeking funds to participate in an interagency initiative to develop the Next Generation Internet (NGI) ( Approximately $58 million is in the Fiscal 1998 request to Congress for new KDI activities including approximately $10 million for NGI.

    The Division of Ocean Sciences is committed to ensuring full participation by the ocean sciences research community in the planned KDI activities in order that they may share in the opportunity and the challenge before us. Information on the development of this initiative should be appearing soon on NSF's home page at Stay tuned.