Too many people confuse “expert system” with a machine that replaces humans in decisionmaking<br>situations. As a result, expert-system technology often is perceived as a threat to the professional<br>in the same way that factory workers are threatened by robotics. A more-realistic view is that of a tool<br>which encourages a structured approach to decision-making. The essence of an expert system is the<br>knowledge engineering upon which it is based, not the resulting computer program In this context,<br>expert systems offer advantages to the professional environmental geophysicist. They can be an effective<br>mechanism for meeting quality-assurance requirements, and they provide a framework within which to<br>justify adequate funding for geophysical surveys.<br>This paper is an unusual case history in that it deals with the exploration process itself rather than<br>a specific prospect. It reviews our efforts to analyze the seismic refraction process and develop guidelines<br>for making decisions, from initial survey design to fmal interpretation. It addresses three principle<br>elements of a refraction survey: survey design, field acquisition, and interpretation, and it presents<br>examples that demonstrate the advantages of a structured approach to decision-making.


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