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Behavior Based Artificial Intelligence (BBAI) is a methodology for developing AI based on a modular decomposition of intelligence. It was made famous by Rodney Brooks and his subsumption architecture was one of the earliest attempts to describe a mechanism for developing BBAI. It is extremely popular in robotics and to a lesser extent intelligent virtual agents because it allows the successful creation of real-time dynamic systems that can run in complex environments. For example, it underlies the intelligence of the Sony Aibo and many RoboCup robot teams.
The most important attribute of a behavior based system is that the intelligence is controlled by a set of independent semi-autonomous modules. In the original systems, each module was actually a separate device or was at least conceived of as running on its own processing thread (computer science). Generally though the modules are just abstractions. BBAI may be seen as a software engineering approach to AI, perhaps akin to object oriented design.
BBAI is often associated with Reactive Planning, but the two are not synonymous. Brooks advocated an extreme version of cognitive minimalism which required initially that the behavior modules were finite state machines and thus contained no conventional memory or learning. This is associated with reactive AI because reactive AI requires reacting to the current state of the world, not to an agent's memory or preconception of that world. However, learning is obviously key to realistic strong AI, so this constraint has been relaxed, though not entirely abandoned.
Researchers currently active in this area include Ron Arkin (who has written a book called Behavior Based Robotics) and Maja Mataric. Former researchers include Brooks, Pattie Maes and Bruce Blumberg. It was probably at least partially inspired by Marvin Minsky's Society of Mind.