Knowledge engineering is the process by which information is taken from a human brain for a computer program's use. Since humans and computers operate in very different ways, knowledge engineering is very tough. The most basic type of knowledge engineering is applying simple ground rules to a system.

Many different types of people have attempted to be knowledge engineers, but few have succeeded. The people who are the most successful at entering rules into computers are generally those who explain rules and concepts to human beings often, like teachers and consultants. The least successful knowledge engineers are those who tend to use certain restricted portions of their knowledge, but use them often. A general example of this would be anyone whose work involves directly applying their knowledge, such as computer programmers and engineers.

Knowledge engineers face two main difficulties: being specific enough, and dealing with special conditions and comparison. Let's take an example where you tell a person to do a job where they will place delicate glass statues on surfaces, for instance. People will probably not put a glass object on a surface that's not stable. Because they have common sense, the human can tell that the unstable surface can fall over, and the statue would break. However, a computer would place a glass object on an unstable surface unless it is specifically directed otherwise. So instead of telling the computer to place glass statues on surfaces, you must tell it to place glass statues on sturdy surfaces. Many exceptions are possible, even in this simple example. That is why being specific is one of the most important, but also one of the most challenging, parts of knowledge engineering.

By the same token, a person would probably use their common sense if you were to give them the same task, using bricks. The person realizes that while glass statues must be treated with care, they could stack bricks more quickly and efficiently. The computer would treat the objects in the same manner unless told to do otherwise. Human beings automatically compare situations, but computers do not.

Basic knowledge engineering includes basic rules, but advanced knowledge engineering is a gateway for artificial intelligence. If a knowledge engineer includes these complicated heuristics, a computer program becomes much more independent and intelligent.

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