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The Problem of Inter-computer Communication

Here are some ideas about the value of a common business communication language (CBCL for short) and what its characteristics might be. Besides its practical significance, CBCL raises issues concerning the semantics of natural language.

The need for such a language was suggested to me by an article by Paul Baran [Bar67].gif In this article, Baran envisaged a world of the future in which companies would be well equipped with on-line computer systems. The inventory control computer of company A would write on the screen of a clerk in the purchasing department a statement that 1000 gross of such-and-such pencils were needed and that they should be purchased from company B. The clerk would turn to her typewriter and type out a purchase order. At company B another clerk would receive the purchase order and turn to her terminal and tell the computer to arrange to ship the pencils. Eliminating both clerks by having the computers speak directly to each other was not mentioned. Perhaps the author felt that he was already straining the credulity of his audience.

Suppose we wish to eliminate the clerks by having the computers speak directly to each other. What are the requirements?

John McCarthy
Fri May 7 13:56:17 PDT 1999