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Re: [ontolog-forum] Realist Ontology in Mainstream Media

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ali SH <asaegyn+out@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2013 16:42:23 -0500
Message-id: <CADr70E196BYiL9yXSPJ15Vya8KjCLdYBkyynR3HJB9jOX6Fm3A@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

I think we're looking at the comparisons from different points of view, and valuing functionality differently. I agree with most of what you write, and would agree that in its present incarnation, Siri isn't that interesting an application. 

I'd interpreted "Google making a mockery of Siri" to refer to the core underlying technology. I still don't think that's accurate, but agree with most of the below.


On Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 11:58 AM, Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On 2/7/13 11:34 AM, Ali SH wrote:
Hi Kingsley,

Ok, let me see if I've understood you - so you provide 3 links comparing the search functionality of Siri to the search functionality of Google Search, where Google ... unsurprisingly performs better. What exactly does this prove? To me it hints at non-understanding of what Siri's primary application is.

Sorry, but that's an incorrect assessment. I am not knew (in any way) to Siri.

What's more confusing is that in the "apples-to-apples" comparison, you suggest that Watson, a deep QA system that is aimed at Fortune 500 company budgets is the appropriate comparison to a smart phone app that you used to be able to download for $0.99. This is an apples-to-apples comparison???

You asked about LOD (a constellation of data sources) in comparison to Siri (an application). Watson made/makes us of LOD. Siri's use is a mystery. My fundamental issue is that Siri (if it was more loosely coupled) should be able to enrich its knowledge via access to knowledgebases from subject matter experts. That's what you get from Linked Data and the LOD cloud. The loosely coupling is implicit by virtue of URIs, entity relationship semantics, and inference etc..

A couple of points... 

First, I think it's become clear that Apple has lobotomized Siri.

Yes, and that's my fundamental point!

There are a variety of articles that attest to this, and the fact that some of the key developers of the Siri technology have left Apple seems to suggest there may have been a significant warping of that technology.

That said, I think it's important to emphasize that it's main functionality has never been search, but to perform transactions.

I never claimed that. It is supposed to provide answers to questions via a voice interface.

And it does (did) so, but really interpreting the transaction components of target websites / services in a machine-readable way, rolling it all out in one app... I think this is something that we often forget, and I'm grateful for John Sowa and Ronald Stamper for bringing semiotics back into the picture. It really helps clarify a lot of the confusion that arises from simply thinking of semantics divorced from pragmatics...


In any event, from my perspective, Siri comes a lot closer to the original SW vision of making a lot of the human web, machine readable.

It's a poor demo of what's actually possible today. If it used what was possible today it wouldn't exit out to Web searches across Wikipedia. It would be able to perform the kind of disambiguation that would flip the script (Judo style) on Google, but that isn't the case due to Apple's choices.

They were able to use structured data where it was provided, otherwise they did the hard work of analyzing what was available at a given site / service, curating the information and mapping it to their domain and transactional ontologies.

That's where the like for like comparison comes in with Watson. They did that too, but made smarter use of the LOD cloud datasets.

In the end, the Siri team chose to wall-off their interpretation, which imo is a business decision that we can argue about, though it certainly gave them a first mover advantage (and led to the founding team earning a nice $250M payout)...

Remember, wealth isn't the basis of worth to me. They build a silo that's imploded, predictably.

With regard to your specific comparisons --- well, Siri is not intended as primarily a search tool.

And what is Google then?

It was developed to be a transactional tool, and I don't see how Google Search performing better than Siri proves anything.

It proves that Google (partial Semantic Web exploitation) can easily trump Siri (which claims to be a Semantic Web exploitation showcase). If Siri implemented their system more like Watson, they wouldn't be the case.

The Androi-Siri videso and page you link to, simply shows the testers comparing the performance of the two apps based on a variety of search based questions (many of which are outside of the Siri domain, where it degrades to search)...

Performance and Scalability are features. They are integral components of Google's competitive advantage.


On Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 6:19 AM, Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On 2/6/13 11:59 PM, Ali SH wrote:
Hi Kingsley, 

You make some sweeping claims here...

On Sun, Jan 27, 2013 at 7:20 PM, Kingsley Idehen <kidehen@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Yes, and the tragedy of Siri is that lightweight semantics applied to unstructured data runs rings around it, as demonstrated by Google.

Look, if the Siri folks (many who actually know better) had implemented this solution with a little more selflessness they would be running rings around Google today. You wouldn't have Google making a mockery of Siri on its own home turf.
Might you please qualify this? It seems to me that Siri (at least the pre-Apple version), was actually doing a lot of what the Semantic Web still aspires...

No it doesn't. The Semantic Web isn't about silo applications. It's all about the Web and the addition of entity relationship semantics to the mesh of content constitutes the Web. If Siri was even marginally close to the essence of the Semantic Web vision it would have loose coupling to data sources.

Loose coupling to semantically rich data sources data sources on the Web is how Siri would have protected itself from what's happening right now i.e., Google runs rings around it, playfully.

In search? Yet that is not where its prime competency is... I fail to see the relevance.
That they didn't expose their own methods via open standards, is a business decision, but i don't think that's their "downfall" (if we can even call it that). It is true that Apple to a large extent lobotomized Siri, but I can't make head or tails of your claims.

Siri is like a human being today that doesn't have the ability to access new knowledge from subject matter experts. It just knows what it knows and its sources are mysteriously limited.

Since it was initially developed to perform transactions on behalf of people, it has a very carefully selected and curated set of competencies, since trust is an absolute must in this domain. When Apple bought the technology, they certainly curtailed its abilities while simultaneously marketed it with a lot of smoke and hype. 

In the end, it seems that most of the reviews are fundamentally not understanding what the technology is about.

In what ways is Google making a "mockery" of Siri?

There are many videos demonstrating that [1][2][3].

I don't think a single one demonstrates that. It only does so if you misunderstand the intent of the technology. It does show that Google performs better on search though...

Google has a virtuous cycle the works well for its goals. It isn't pure, but it is superior to Apples' approach.

Ok, on this point I agree. Apple has certainly warped Siri. 

Is there a single SemWeb or LOD project that comes close to even a fraction of Siri's functionality? C.f:

Compare like with like. Maybe you mean: is there a similar smart agent that leverages the LOD cloud that one could compare with Siri. My basic answer: IBM Watson [4].

How is this a fair comparison? A technology aimed at companies with budgets in the millions vs an app aimed at individuals with a budget of $0.99

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