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Re: [ontolog-forum] IBM Watson on Jeopardy

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2011 12:10:38 -0500
Message-id: <4D59620E.5090506@xxxxxxxx>
Ron Wheeler wrote:    (01)

> I suspect that the impact of Watson on Ontology as a field can be 
> negative or positive.
> It shows that you can get answers to questions using data that is much 
> less structured than the traditional languages used for ontology research.
> It raises the question about what is a "good enough" process. Does it 
> have to always produce the right answer? Does it have to be a repeatable 
> process that is subject to proof?
> If a Watson was available on a "per Question" basis and only cost a few 
> cents per answer, how many companies or governments would use it?
>       (02)

Now we are finally coming to the question we really need to worry about 
and are afraid to ask:
  What is the impact of Watson on ontology research and NLP research?
In particular, what will be the impact on the traditional funding 
sources for that research?    (03)

Yes, Watson is a tremendous accomplishment.  What problem does it solve?    (04)

I don't think the Biomedical information systems folk have much to gain 
from Watson technology, and as a consequence, their ontological research 
folk have little to fear.  I do think, however, that every undirected 
research program in 'natural language processing' will in the future 
have to distinguish itself from Watson's capabilities, especially when 
John insists that a fair amount of that capability can be brought to 
bear with a 20-processor server.  It won't suffice to talk about 
'specialized knowledge', because that is just a matter of identifying 
the useful source material.  Research justification will have to talk 
about the special characteristics of that knowledge or the questions to 
be asked, or about the accuracy requirements, or some such.    (05)

In so many words, I think we can all agree that "the real Semantic Web" 
is going to be based on natural language processing -- a combination of 
smart algorithms and brute force -- and Watson is the demonstration that 
its time is now.  The question is going to be:  What are you doing that 
is importantly different, and why?
In your next NSF proposal, or FP7/8 proposal, or your next pitch to your 
sponsor, be prepared to answer that question.    (06)

-Ed    (07)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                Cel: +1 240-672-5800    (08)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST, 
 and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (09)

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