Intelligent Systems: The Weakest Link?

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This paper investigates the role intelligent systems may play in the design, operation and maintenance of safety critical applications. It questions whether the techniques currently used to construct intelligent knowledge-based systems can produce designs which can meet the performance requirements of such applications and which, in particular, can be trusted. The paper concludes that conventional rule-based systems are essentially ad-hoc and thus not really suitable, however, more sophisticated techniques as embodied in the abductive, qualitative reasoning and inscriptor approaches are seen to point the way to a solution.