With much less hyping than was accorded artificial intelligence software, neural networking technology appears to be making considerable commercial headway, with the likes of Textron Inc’s Avco Financial Services unit trying out neural nets for analysing loan applications, BancTec Inc in Dallas planning to introduce a system next year to read handwritten characters on cheques, and great enthusiasm for the technology in the US Department of Defense. One of the pioneers of the technology is Nestor Inc of Providence, Rhode Island, which a few weeks back was able to announce three agreements that make it clear that the company and its technology are being taken very seriously indeed. The company has won an agreement from Control Data Corp’s Institute for Advanced Technology under which the CDC unit will list and provide seminars on the Nestor Learning System to its 3m plus subscribers. Nestor and the big Morgan Stanley & Co Inc investment bank have entered into a non-exclusive licence agreement to use the Nestor Decision Learning System for an equities trading application. And consultant Arthur D Little Inc has agreed to launch a co-operative effort to market Nestor’s neural artificial intelligence products to the financial and industrial markets. Nestor believes that its neural-based system of artificial intelligence is superior to anything yet developed by anyone and says that after several months of on site trials, Morgan Stanley concluded that its self-programming Learning System was the only artificial intelligence system yet developed that is suitable to its applications. The company notes that all its systems are adaptive information processing systems that derive their own rules, or learn from experience, unlike conventional expert systems. Pattern and object recognition, and decision making capabilities in the financial markets are among pre-sent applications using the Nestor technology, and the company has now moved on to research into applications in industrial vision systems.