Begun in April 1992, this 10-year project is the successor to the Fifth Generation Computer System Project. It is, however, in no way a continuation of the FGCS project (which is continuing in reduced form at ICOT for another three years). The FGCS Project was conceived as a research effort exploring the necessary infrastructure for knowledge-based systems; the computing systems developed at ICOT are called knowledge information processing systems. Knowledge-based systems are not part of the RWC concept.
The RWC project was planned by MITI's Electrotechnical Laboratory and will be executed by a central institute (located near ETL in Tsukuba) along with several so-called distributed institutes in companies or even foreign countries.
Unlike the FGCS project, which had a core theme of KBS and then developed subprojects in support of this theme (i.e., logic programming, natural language processing, parallel machines, KBS demo applications), the RWC project seems to be the result of a consensus-building process that has led to an eclectic mix of project goals. The three discernible themes are: 1) optical computers, 2) neural networks (this theme also stresses parallel computing, but it is not clear whether it stretches to cover conventional parallelism), and 3) ease of use. The third theme is still quite broad and fuzzy; it covers many topics and approaches, including: natural language understanding, speech understanding, soft logic (the next generation beyond fuzzy logic), probabilistic and statistical structure of logic, image understanding, multimedia and advanced user interfaces.
RWC stresses graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that are flexible, helpful, highly interactive, etc. Inference methods for flexible information retrieval and machine learning -- particularly in the context of forming associations between database items -- are also important. Many of these themes are also mentioned in the Knowledge Archives proposal being developed at EDR (discussed earlier in this chapter).
So far, the RWC goals are stated broadly and vaguely. The project planners are waiting for proposals for actual work to arrive. The real shape of the project will be determined by the work that is funded.