I think you are missing an important point.
The motivation for using a technology does not depend solely on its
technical capability. For a technology such as a foundation ontology, which
is *most useful* when serving as a standard for communicating complex
concepts, the motivation is in proportion to the number of other users (or
the square, or whatever function). As long as the core of Cyc is
proprietary, the number of users will of course be very small (Doug Lenat
had hoped otherwise, but that was a long shot). There will be *very little*
motivation to use it solely as an ontology for internal programs, when
simpler ontologies could do just as well. Few users, little motivation to
undertake expensive development. End of story.
The alternative is to gather together a large (> 50) group of ontology
developers and potential users, and have them create an ontology (using the
public Cyc, SUMO, and whatever else is available to avoid reinventing
wheels), and have them agree to try using that common foundation ontology in
their applications. That method will generate a significant core of users
from the start, who will be able to share their results with much greater
efficiency than if they were each using their own ontologies. Their
participation in the project of constructing the foundation ontology is one
powerful motivation for using it. We have not had such a project, and no
number of expert contributors to Cyc will substitute for the creation by a
properly funded coordinated project of a large user group for an ontology
that will contain what each of them thinks is necessary for his/her own
It might even be cheaper than buying out Cyc. (02)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
> bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
> Sent: Wednesday, April 02, 2008 12:27 PM
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] What is "understanding"
> I don't know what you're holding your breath for.
> > I just don't want to hold my breath until that [Cyc
> > becomes public] happens.
> Many companies had Cyc for years, and they couldn't
> use it for anything that was worth the investment.
> > Do you really think that what Microsoft works on is
> > a good measure of what is worthwhile?
> I mentioned Microsoft as only one among several companies.
> In particular, Microsoft had a license in the early 1990s
> to take anything they found useful from Cyc and use it in
> their products without paying further royalties. I don't
> know what they did, but they dropped the funding for Cyc.
> Another large company, which I shall not name, had been
> one of the investors in Cyc from the very early days.
> While I was visiting them, I asked the manager of the
> AI department what his group was doing with Cyc and
> what he thought about it.
> His response was "It's funny that every person who had
> spent any time working with Cyc has been fired. And I
> don't believe that's a coincidence."
> When I visited there, I had spoken with one person who
> implemented a small demo using Cyc. A couple of months
> later, I sent him an email note to ask a question.
> But the email bounced back -- invalid userid.
> As I said, there is lots of evidence that terminologies
> with few axioms are extremely valuable, and there is
> evidence that low-level domain-oriented ontologies are
> also valuable. I think that the OOR is very promising
> as an open-ended repository for high, low, and middle
> level ontologies. I suggest that we wait to see what
> patterns of usage develop.
> I don't see any urgency in pushing for something that
> people couldn't use effectively even when they had it.
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