SRI International is Awarded DARPA Contract to Develop New Cognitive Computing Software

MENLO PARK, Calif.--()--July 16, 2003--

  Multidisciplinary Research Team Led by SRI Will Advance Cognitive Computing and Artificial Intelligence to Develop a Personal Cognitive Assistant  

Independent research institute SRI International is leading the development of new software that could revolutionize how computers support decision-makers.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under its Perceptive Assistant that Learns (PAL) program, has awarded SRI $22 million for the first phase of a five-year contract to develop an enduring personalized cognitive assistant. DARPA expects the PAL program to generate innovative ideas that result in new science, new and fundamental approaches to current problems, and new algorithms and tools, and to yield new technology of significant value to the military.

SRI has dubbed its new project CALO, for Cognitive Agent that Learns and Observes. The name was inspired by the Latin word "calonis," which means "soldier's servant." The goal of the project is to create cognitive software systems, that is, systems that can reason, learn from experience, be told what to do, explain what they are doing, reflect on their experience, and respond robustly to surprise.

The software, which will learn by interacting with and being advised by its users, will handle a broad range of interrelated decision-making tasks that have in the past been resistant to automation. It will have the capability to engage in and lead routine tasks, and to assist when the unexpected happens. To focus the research on real problems and to ensure the software meets requirements such as privacy, security, and trust, the CALO project researchers will themselves use the technology during its development.

SRI is leading the multidisciplinary CALO project team, and, beyond participating in the research program, is also responsible for overall project direction and management and the development of prototypes.

The project is bringing together leading computer scientists and researchers in artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, knowledge representation, human-computer interaction, flexible planning, and behavioral studies at 20 organizations:

Boeing Phantom Works

Carnegie Mellon University

Dejima, Inc.

Fetch Technologies, Inc.

Georgia Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Oregon Health & Science University

Stanford University

State University of New York - Stony Brook

University of California at Berkeley

University of Massachusetts at Amherst

University of Michigan

University of Pennsylvania

University of Rochester

University of Southern California and its Information Sciences Institute

The University of Texas at Austin

University of Washington

University of West Florida's Institute of Human and Machine Cognition

Yale University

Researchers will organize their work around the areas of learning, reasoning, planning, perception and communication.

About SRI International

Silicon Valley-based SRI International ( is one of the world's leading independent research and technology development organizations. Founded as Stanford Research Institute in 1946, SRI has been meeting the strategic needs of clients for more than 55 years. The nonprofit research institute performs contract research and development for government agencies, commercial businesses and nonprofit foundations. In addition to conducting contract R&D, SRI licenses its technologies, forms strategic partnerships and creates spin-off companies.

SRI's Artificial Intelligence Center ( is a pioneer and major contributor to the development of computer capabilities for intelligent behavior in complex situations. The Center's objectives are to understand the computational principles underlying intelligence in humans and machines and to develop methods for building computer-based systems to solve problems, to communicate with people, and to perceive and interact with the physical world.


SRI International
Marty Mallonee, 650-859-2198


SRI International
Marty Mallonee, 650-859-2198