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Artificial intelligence in process automation

Artificial intelligence in process automation - Just how...

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By Béla Lipták, PE, CONTROL Contributor WHAT IS intelligence? It is the totality of man’s mental processes. Intelligence makes us capable of adapting to our environment. It is what a child uses to process the information received from the sensors of hearing, vision, touch and the observation of the relationships between the causes and consequences of outside events. Figure 1 below illustrates a neuron of the human brain, which allows us to relate a number of inputs (x) to an output (y). Human intelligence includes the capability of perceiving relationships and analogies, reasoning, storing and retrieving information, classifying, generalizing, predicting on the basis of the past and adjusting to new conditions. FIGURE 1: BIOLOGICAL NEURON MODEL A biological neuron model, which processes N inputs (xN) to arrive at the output (y). (McCulloch-Pitts neuron). Over the years, through the efforts of control professionals, our process controllers have gradually become more and more intelligent. First we improved PID control by adding external reset, decoupling, dead time and dynamic compensation, gain scheduling, feed forward and auto-tuning. Than came the linear quadratic Gaussian (LPG) regulator, Kalman filter, model predictive control (MPC), adaptive control, repetitive control and optimization. In the vocabulary of control engineers, artificial intelligence is a relatively new term. It was coined during a technical conference at Dartmouth University in 1956. This article will concentrate on the latest stage, the family of algorithms consisting of fuzzy logic, rule-based artificial intelligence and neural networks. Just how smart will controller intelligence get? CONTROL’s Béla Lipták reports on changes, new concepts, and innovative methods in the use of artificial intelligence in controlling automated processes. 11/06/2006
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FIGURE 2: ARTIFICIAL NEURAL NETWORK Today, our control tool, the computer, can handle 10 billion instructions per second and has memory densities exceeding 300 GB per square inch. Compared to human intelligence, machine intelligence is more reliable, because computers do not get tired, mad, drunk, jealous, angry, fall in love, become senile, etc. In addition, intelligent machines have no egos or emotions; they just follow orders of their programmers—who do have egos and emotions. Naturally, the knowledge of machines cannot exceed that of their programmers. Therefore, the process control knowledge of the programmer is key because one must fully understand a process before one can control it. Certain machines already approach or border on having intelligence and as such, can often replace or outperform human operators. For example, the computer “Deep Blue” beat the world chess champion, Gary Kasparov. Artificial intelligence (AI)-based computer systems are also the primary controllers of spacecraft.
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