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Re: [ontolog-forum] IBM Watson's Final Jeopardy error "explanation"

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2011 13:37:17 -0500
Message-id: <4D5D6ADD.4060503@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Peter and Krzysztof,    (01)

> "artificial intelligence" is neither.    (02)

That's a quibble about a name.  Many people, including me, have stated
such quibbles from time to time, but they're irrelevant.  They're as
pointless as the behaviorists who objected to the name 'psychology'
because it implies an unobservable psyche.    (03)

John McCarthy coined the term 'artificial intelligence'.  He also
designed LISP, and he was the primary advocate of logic-based
techniques in AI, which spilled over into every other area of
computer science.  He also published some papers about philosophical
issues in AI, which stimulated much of the R & D that led to our
current work on formal ontology.    (04)

> I seriously worry that such a failed dismal experiment of the
> last century...    (05)

The amount of high quality research done under the name of AI
has been enormous, and it has been so thoroughly integrated into
the foundations of computer science that its AI origins have often
been forgotten:    (06)

  1. Just look at LISP, which contributed the if-then-else statement,
     recursion, lambda expressions, metalanguage, garbage collection,
     the ability to write an interpreter or compiler of a language
     in itself, etc.  (McCarthy, by the way, was also a member of
     the IFIP committee that designed Algol, so his influence was
     very direct.)    (07)

  2. Java is basically LISP + CLOS (Common Lisp Object System)
     written in a syntax based on C.  But the AI community had
     30 years of experience in using and extending that technology.
     Sun (which designed Java) was founded by former Stanford
     students who learned LISP and AI from McCarthy and others
     and who built their company by selling workstations for AI.    (08)

  3. Most of the technology for logic-based systems, theorem provers,
     formal languages, parsers, etc., was either pioneered in AI
     or applied and extended in AI projects.    (09)

  4. People like Ted Codd, who founded the relational DB community,
     were strongly influenced by AI.  Codd wrote his PhD dissertation
     on cellular automata and participated in joint projects on AI
     related issues.  Among them was his RENDEZVOUS system for
     an English query language for RDBs (and, by the way, Codd's
     group used a parser that I wrote for their front end).    (010)

> [AI] now re-emerges with respectable "semantic web" clothing.    (011)

Please note that the Semantic Web is just a tiny subset of AI
technology, and the primary developers came from the AI community.    (012)

The person who developed RDF was Ramanathan Guha, who wrote his
PhD dissertation at Stanford with McCarthy as his supervisor.
While he was finishing his PhD, he worked on Cyc and became
the associate director of Cyc.  He later went to Apple, where
he developed the Meta Content Framework (MCF).  He then went
to Netscape, where he worked with Tim Bray to rewrite MCF in
XML to form RDF.    (013)

Guha later collaborated with Pat Hayes and others (also from
the AI community) to define the semantic foundations for RDF
and OWL.  (Just check Google for "Guha Hayes RDF" and
"Guha Hayes OWL" to find the W3C documents.)  And OWL began
as a combination of two AI projects, DAML + OIL, and was
further enhanced by people from the AI community.    (014)

> Watson is a question answering machine and a very good one. Maybe one
> day they will deploy it on your mobile phone with a Internet connection
> to the processing and storage unit in the cloud similar to the Wolfram
> Alpha App. Watson is not intelligent in the sense that it does not
> understand the answers or questions but it turns out that in many cases
> this is not necessary. I think that as a research domain we should be
> rather happy that Watson won and congratulate IBM -- it is a strong
> showcase for our work.    (015)

I strongly agree.  The people who worked on Watson had a strong
foundation in both AI and comp. sci.  It is a respectable piece
of research.    (016)

Anybody who doubts these points should do some remedial studies
in the history of AI and computer science.    (017)

John    (018)

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