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?
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)
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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