FYI: IBM aims to get smart about AI (fwd)

The following appeared on CNET News.
I suddenly understand why the IBM members are on our WG.
(although they still have a job to do explain the difference between XML and 
RDF to their VP:-)



    Date: 20-01-03
  Source: CNET News
Subject: IBM aims to get smart about AI

In the coming months, IBM will unveil technology that it believes will
vastly improve the way computers access and use data by unifying the
different schools of thought surrounding artificial intelligence.

The Unstructured Information Management Architecture (UIMA) is an XML-based
data retrieval architecture under development at IBM. UIMA will greatly
expand and enhance the retrieval techniques underlying databases, said
Alfred Spector, vice president of services and software at IBM's Research

UIMA "is something that becomes part of a database, or, more likely,
something that databases access," he said. "You can sense things almost all
the time. You can effect change in automated or human systems much more."

Once incorporated into systems, UIMA could allow cars to obtain and display
real-time data on traffic conditions and on average auto speeds on
freeways, or it could let factories regulate their own fuel consumption and
optimally schedule activities. Automated language translation and natural
language processing also would become feasible.

The theory underlying UIMA is the Combination Hypothesis, which states that
statistical machine learning--the sort of data-ranking intelligence behind
search site Google--syntactical artificial intelligence, and other
techniques can be married in the relatively near future.

"If we apply in parallel the techniques that different artificial
intelligence schools have been proponents of, we will achieve a
multiplicative reduction in error rates," Spector said. "We're beginning to
apply the Combination Hypothesis, and that is going to happen a lot this
year. I think you will begin to see this rolling out in technologies that
people use over the next few years. It isn't that far away.

"There is more progress in this happening than has happened, despite the
fact that the Nasdaq is off its peak," he added.

The results of current, major UIMA experiments will be disclosed to
analysts around March, with public disclosures to follow, sources at IBM said.

Although it's been alternately touted and debunked, the era of functional
artificial intelligence may be dawning. For one thing, the processing power
and data-storage capabilities required for thinking machines are now coming
into existence.

Researchers also have refined more acutely the algorithms and concepts
behind artificially intelligent software.

Additionally, the explosive growth of the Internet has created a need for
machines that can function relatively autonomously. In the future, both
businesses and individuals simply will own far more computers than they can
manage--spitting out more data than people will be able to mentally absorb
on their own. The types of data on the Net--audio, text, visual--will also
continue to grow.

XML, meanwhile, provides an easy way to share and classify data, which
makes it easier to apply intelligence technology into the computing
environment. "The database industry will undergo more change in the next
three years than it has in the last 20 due to the emergence of XML,"
Spector said.

A new order
Artificial intelligence in a sense will function like a filter. Sensors
will gather data from the outside world and send it to a computer, which in
turn will issue the appropriate actions, alerting its human owners only
when necessary.

When it comes to Web searching, humans will make a query, and computers
will help them refine it so that only the relevant data, rather than 14
pages of potential Web sites, match.

IBM's approach to artificial intelligence has been decidedly agnostic.
There are roughly two basic schools of thought in artificial intelligence.
Statistical learning advocates believe that the best guide for thinking
machines is memory.

Based in part on the mathematical theories of 18th century clergyman Thomas
Bayes, statistical theory essentially states that the future, or current
events, can be identified by what occurred in the past. Google search
results, for example, are laundry lists of sites other individuals examined
after posing similar queries ranked in a hierarchy. Voice-recognition
applications work under the same principle.

By contrast, rules-based intelligence advocates, broken down into
syntactical and grammatical schools of thought, believe that machines work
better when more aware of context.

A search for "Italian Pet Rock" on a statistically intelligent search
engine, for example, might return sites about the 1970s novelty. A
rules-based application, by contrast, might realize you mistyped the
Italian poet Petrarch. A Google search on UIMA turned up the Ukrainian
Institute of Modern Art as the first selection.

"The combination of grammatical, statistical, advanced statistical (and)
semantics will probably be needed to do this, but you can't do it without a
common architecture," Spector said. Thinking in humans, after all, isn't
completely understood.

"It's not exactly clear how children learn. I'm convinced it's
statistically initially, but then at a certain point you will is
not just statistical," he said. "They are reasoning. It's remarkable."

Received on Tuesday, 21 January 2003 12:37:13 UTC