AI it aint

It's great to see someone like Jim Hendler get it:

...you use a small amount of Sem Web (think Foaf or Skos) to add a bit of organizational knowledge (and to webize with URIs) to tagging sites, microformats, and etc. It is the realization that the REST approach to the world is a wonderful way to use RDF and it is enpowered by the emerging standards of SPARQL, GRDDL, RDF/A and the like.

And a final flourish...

And to my AI buddies holed up in your Ivy covered towers, it’s true, I have sold out to the Dark Side — get over it!

I find all the deep OWL reasoning talk at conferences like ISWC very tiring. I mean, I find it fascinating but it's unrealistic to expect that it's going to be useful on any kind of web scale any time in the next 20 years. What does work today and is truly a uniqueness of the semantic web is the universal data model that RDF provides and the decentralisation of that through URIs. Yes, you can build an AI system on top of that but it was hard enough when the researchers had free reign over the data representation and execution context. I'm not sure why some think it's going to be any easier on the Web.

What will make a difference is the volume of data available that could be accessible to the eventual AI applications. But I never got the impression that interpreting the data was the hard bit about AI.

RDF puts the web of data within our grasp and a light touch with some weak semantics will help organise this better for applications and humans to deal with. But, as I wrote a couple of days ago, the role of the human is inseparable from the web.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a believer in strong AI and I expect a machine will one day be capable of independent thought, but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime. Unless, that is, the Singularity occurs in the next 20 years and then I'll have all the time in the world ;-)

Permalink: http://blog.iandavis.com/2006/12/ai-it-aint/


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