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Joined: 20 Mar 2006
Posts: 1273
Location: Kent (East Hill), WA

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:52 am    Post subject: Cyc Reply with quote

Back during a stint as a Microsoft employee (88-92), I focused on intelligent systems and knowledgebases as a member of the Support department's IT group. One of my tasks was keeping track of the goings on in the knowledgebase area and so I read up on the Cyc project.

For some reason, the project came to mind as I remembered that it was a huge effort to build a data rich knowledgebase system. You see, knowledge can be declarative and procedural.

Declarative is "the card is red". Procedural is "if the card is red, let the person pass into the room". With many expert systems, the focus is on the procedural knowledge. That is because many of them are just that..."expert", so the domain of knowledge is restrictive. There are specialized terms and restricted languages that the human experts use, and the knowledgebase systems are manipulated by these systems. Thus ambiguity is reduced.

The problem is for general purpose knowledge. We English speakers have a very redundant, declaritive rich brain and society. We know what we are talking about based on the context of a conversation. These "outside" clues are what removes ambiguity. And even then, we still get confused talking to each other! That's why we ask people to explain statments, repeat instructions and clarify.

For a computer system, this is a nightmare. The Cyc project, started by Doug Lenat begins with the idea that we cannot build general purpose procedural knowledgebased systems without a rich embedded understanding of the real world. So, he gathers together people to "feed" his knowledgebase system, the Cyc project, with that information.

Back to the story, after "remembering Cyc" I Googled it and lo and behold it's quite alive and well. There's even an Open Source version of the software that I downloaded and am going to examine. I highly recommend you go to Google Video and look up the Google Talk by Doug Lenat and then visit Cyc at:
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