Software Development

Born in the ’80s, Temple’s NARS Project is still an artificial general intelligence leader

The project, which is unique because its technology learns from experience in real time, is partnering with DC-based startup Future AI.

Temple University's Charles Library.

(Technical.ly photo)

Did you know that Temple University is home to a decades-old AI systems project?

The NARS (Non-Axiomatic Reasoning System) Project is an artificial general intelligence (AGI) system focused on reasoning, learning, planning, perceiving, and temporal/procedural control. The project was founded in the 1980s by Dr. Pei Wang, who is currently an associate professor and researcher at the North Philadelphia university.

Peter Isaev and Patrick Hammer worked on implementation and practical application of the NARS Project as research assistants within the College of Science and Technology’s Department of Computer & Information Sciences. Hammer earned his Ph.D. in computer and information science from Temple in 2021; Isaev is pursuing his now.

Hammer told Technical.ly the project in unique from others in artificial intelligence because it learns from experience in real time. When the system is operating, it can test hypotheses out to see what works and what doesn’t, making implementation of the project practical.

“It’s really about uncertainty, and reasoning and learning in real time,” Isaev added, “which stands out from the rest of the AGI systems because real time and uncertainty are the key aspects of NARS.”

Many successful machine learning systems are special purpose systems to do specific tasks, Hammer said, but AGI is about building reasoning systems that learn from experience and perform many tasks. The project is currently working on integrating NARS into robotics.

Future AI Logo

Future AI’s logo. (Courtesy image)

NARS recently received a grant from DC-based AI company Future AI, which launched in January of this year. Isaev said members of the NARS Project met Future AI at an AGI conference, and are now acting as consultants to Future AI on its technology. Funding details were not disclosed.

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“Using the general-purpose reasoning model developed for the NARS project, we believe we can strengthen our efforts to ensure that Future AI’s graph-based AI system will showcase desirable cognitive abilities,” Future AI founder and CEO Charles Simon said in a statement.

Future AI’s technology is very different from NARS, but the AGI community is very small, so those in the community try to find common ground to continue their research, Isaev said. The purpose of the collaboration is to “provide the knowledge of NARS and be advising how to embed it in their current architecture.”

NARS Project received the grant at the beginning of the fall and the collaboration will run until the end of this semester in December. Temple’s researchers said the collaboration has been going well, and that both groups are able to see and address the challenges they face.

Future AI is not the only company the NARS Project has partnered with, though: The project has worked with the likes of NASA and Cisco as well. Overall, Isaev said, AI is currently limited, and takes time, commitment and partnerships to achieve goals within AGI.


Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
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