IPFW professor wins grant for artificial intelligence work

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research is funding research on artificial intelligence and robotics at a local Analogical Constructivism and Reasoning Lab.

The lab at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne is run by John Licato, an assistant professor of computer science there and a recipient of a 2016 Air Force Young Investigator Research Program award.

He is getting $360,000 over a three-year period to support work related to his “Active Formalization Through Analogico-Deductive Reasoning” funding proposal.

The active formalization Licato is studying relates to the creation of robots that use the anological reasoning of computers, but “can reason beyond the formalizations they are initially given,” he said in a statement.

“Artificially intelligent systems are often given a set of rules and symbols to reason over. But human beings seem to have an ability to think about those symbols, understand the meaning behind those symbols, and create new ones, often going beyond the rules and symbols they were given.”

The Air Force funded work will involve a search for ways to give robots flexibility in how they understand instructions and arrive at implications of information they process.

Reasoning associated with the scientific method and hypothesis formulation is basic for humans, but rarely performed well in artificial systems.

Licato’s research will explore the intersection of that human hypothetico-deductive reasoning and analogical reasoning. He terms the logical processes at that intersection “analogico-deductive reasoning.”

Part of the work will include a computational implementation of syntactic rules favored for explication by the former German logician Rudolf Carnap.

“This grant not only raises the level of our engineering program, it also provides a great opportunity for the students to become involved in cutting-edge research with outstanding faculty,” Beomjin Kim, the professor who chairs IPFW’s Computer Science Department, said in the statement.

The Young Investigator Research Program is open to research institution scientists and engineers who have received a doctorate within the last five years, and Licato received his last year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

He was among 56 researchers at 41 institutions across the country who are receiving $20.6 million in grants to support work connected with the winning proposals they submitted.

Part of the program’s purpose is to help advance the careers of outstanding young researchers while supporting creative basic research in science and engineering.

Zoeller calls on Congress to stop cell phone robocalls

Attorneys general serving half the states in the country are calling on Congress to pass a Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls Act of 2015, including Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

The HANGUP Act would reverse a new law allowing debt collection robocalls on mobile phones.

In addition to interrupting privacy, cell phone owners may be charged for robocalls. For that reason, the federal government banned them until the Telephone Consumer Protection Act was amended to allow robocalls for the collection of debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States.

During a news conference with Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear in Louisville early this month, Zoeller said debt collection robocalls are aggressive, relentless and often inaccurate.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office received close to 700 debt collection complaints last year, and in about 90 percent of those cases, the caller was harassing the wrong person, Zoeller said in a statement.

He read part of a message from a harassed Indiana consumer to make his point.

“We get several calls on any given day for a person that does not live here,” said the consumer in a complaint filed with the Attorney General’s office. “I refuse to let them bully me … (and) ask them every time to stop calling us. I need help in getting this stopped. It is out of control.”

Because robocalls have been banned, individuals generally associate them with scammers. The proliferation of scams involving the impersonation of federal employees such as IRS agents creates an additional layer of confusion, and likely creates more opportunity for fraud, the statement said.

“College students and recent graduates are already buried in mountains of debt,” Zoeller said. “Blasting them with robocalls, running up their cellphone bills and putting them at risk for fraud only adds insult to injury.”

The Indiana Attorney General’s office received nearly 14,000 complaints about unwanted calls last year, and a majority of them were about robocalls.

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