Blog Feed Post

A semantic journey

Closeup of Babbage Difference Engine #2Earlier this week, Gigaom announced their latest event; Structure Intelligence.

“In the past year we’ve seen massive growth in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning. Our own Derrick Harris has been covering this area for years and we have decided it’s time to give this rapidly growing area a platform (and conference) of its own.”

Personally, it’s great to see this area getting real attention from Gigaom. But I’m reminded of just how long some of these issues have intersected (or, often, passed close-by) my own career…

Back in the mid-1990’s, I was researching a Ph.D in the Archaeology Department at the University of York. Nothing particularly semantic or artificially intelligent about that… except that a fellow student was building a neural network that inferred all sorts of things about Viking sheep, based on cues derived from photographs of their excavated teeth. And expert systems were in vogue, for a while, doggedly following rules to identify such esoterica as the precise Dragendorff form of Samian pottery fragments. I stuck to teaching computers how to build maps of the archaeology below our cities. Much prettier.

Fast forward around ten years to Talis where, for a while, a team was assembled that pushed the envelope on what might be possible with an open, extensible and connected semantic platform. Alongside the technical developments, significant effort was invested in raising awareness of the potential around semantic technologies. Podcasts, two blogs, a print magazine (!), invitations to present globally. All now, sadly, gone from the Interweb as the company turned in a very different (but, given the unanticipated arrival of a global financial crisis, possibly understandably safe) direction.

As Richard Macmanus noted at the time, there was a brief flurry of interest in ‘semantic’ amongst the Web 2.0 crowd…

There was also a far deeper, and more sustained, interest in putting core semantic technologies to work in solving big, hard, slow problems. Events like the long-running Semantic Technology Conference (coming up in San Jose this August) offered a rare opportunity for academics and business leaders (and lots of spooks) to mingle. Other events tended to cater to a more academic crowd, making it harder for the big ideas to really get tested in business situations.

ZDNet had a semantic web blog, which I wrote for a number of years. Subsequent site reorganisations have broken a number of the URL redirects, but all the content does still seem to be there if you craft the right searches. There was also a site called SemanticWeb.com, now part of the same organisation as the Semantic Technology conference, where I wrote a regular column for a while. There, too, not every link survived the site’s transition unscathed.

Here in Europe, the funding stream that’s now concerned with ‘big data’ and the ‘data value chain’ was far more effusively intrigued by semantics, natural language processing, pattern recognition, and related matters. I’ve reviewed a lot of proposals there, and the change in the language of funding calls and bids has been interesting to observe.

And now, as Gigaom’s post noted, “we’ve seen a massive growth in Artificial Intelligence.” Everyone seems to be talking about it, and they don’t necessarily always mean what an AI researcher would mean. Much of what we’re seeing goes back to those enthusiastic days before the crash, even if some of the language and emphasis has shifted. Bottlenose, which I wrote about this week? Brain-child of Nova Spivack, of Twine fame in 2008. Microsoft’s Machine Learning, Business Intelligence and Analytics stuff? A lot of it is underpinned by people, technology and ideas from Powerset. Google’s Knowledge Graph, most recently seen telling us what the symptoms of a common cold might be? There’s lots of Metaweb and Freebase under the hood.

The language has definitely shifted. Artificial Intelligence, which was stuffy, esoteric, academic, and a bit pie-in-the-sky even to the semantic technology crowd, is now the term du jour. Semantic Web is only mentioned in whispers, if at all, although some of it sees practical and pragmatic adoption as part of initiatives like the Google-backed schema.org.

I made a conscious decision, when I left Talis, to focus on the emerging opportunities around cloud and data. Hence the name. Cloud, increasingly, is table stakes. It’s background, foundation, platform. It’s not interesting for itself, but for what it lets you do. And what it lets you do is gather, process and act upon oodles and oodles of data. Software like Hadoop, and data-based trends like open data mandates from Government create a fertile mix of capability and content. Computing is faster, cheaper, better. Data is better, more comprehensive and more available.

Now, maybe, all that semantic stuff can have its day… powered by cloud and data. And Structure Intelligence can play its part in telling — and shaping — this next chapter.

Disclaimer: I am an active member of Gigaom Research’s Analyst Network. They pay me for various things. They do not pay me to plug their events.

Image is a close-up of the modern replica of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, photographed by Larry Johnson.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database.

He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.

Latest Stories
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
With privacy often voiced as the primary concern when using cloud based services, SyncriBox was designed to ensure that the software remains completely under the customer's control. Having both the source and destination files remain under the user?s control, there are no privacy or security issues. Since files are synchronized using Syncrify Server, no third party ever sees these files.
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
"We are an integrator of carrier ethernet and bandwidth to get people to connect to the cloud, to the SaaS providers, and the IaaS providers all on ethernet," explained Paul Mako, CEO & CTO of Massive Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
I believe that this may finally be the year that the CIO role ‘crosses the Rubicon,' leaving behind its traditional, IT-focused orientation. But I don't believe that either of the previous predictions of this outcome — fading into oblivion or rising to a business executive level — is correct. Instead, I think this is the year that we will see the role of the CIO transformed into something altogether different.
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
"Calligo is a cloud service provider with data privacy at the heart of what we do. We are a typical Infrastructure as a Service cloud provider but it's been designed around data privacy," explained Julian Box, CEO and co-founder of Calligo, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"NetApp is known as a data management leader but we do a lot more than just data management on-prem with the data centers of our customers. We're also big in the hybrid cloud," explained Wes Talbert, Principal Architect at NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.