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   RE: RDF, the "semantic web",and the nadir of AI (was RE: Realistic propo

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  • From: Jonathan Borden <jborden@mediaone.net>
  • To: Mike.Champion@SoftwareAG-USA.com, xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000 23:40:51 -0400

Mike.Champion wrote:

> I admit to suffering the extreme cynicism about "AI" that comes
> from having been a zealot about its potential in my mis-spent youth
> and suffering continued disillusionment since ... and  it's hard to
> shake the feeling that the 'semantic web' is 1980's AI hype on life
> support.  Could anyone set me straight if this is terribly unfair?

	There is nothing at all wrong with being a zealot about the 'potential' for
AI. The huge problem was the gross underestimate of the difficultly of the
problem combined with the great arrogance regarding the capabilities of
computer software circa 1975 with respect to the human brain (i.e. real
intelligence). I continue to gain more respect for the difficulties of
actually solving problems which on the surface appear tractable but are in
reality really difficult things to understand.

	Realize that the capabilities regarding intelligence of a one year old
child greatly surpass those of our most sophisticated computers and you can
begin to realize the problem of designing computer software that meets or
exceeds the capabilities of a human domain expert.

	On the other hand, perhaps the greatest single invention of this time was
the idea of a semantic network. The apparently simple act of agreeing on a
standard vocabulary or terminology for a particular field of study can then
be seen for its true and great value. The problem with the semantic web
isn't that there is no potential, but rather that it is a really difficult
thing to do well. RDF is at least a start.

	There are worse things you could have wasted your time on in the 1980s :-)

Jonathan Borden
The Open Healthcare Group


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