SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

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
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.
On-premise or off, you have powerful tools available to maximize the value of your infrastructure and you demand more visibility and operational control. Fortunately, data center management tools keep a vigil on memory contestation, power, thermal consumption, server health, and utilization, allowing better control no matter your cloud's shape. In this session, learn how Intel software tools enable real-time monitoring and precise management to lower operational costs and optimize infrastructure...
"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.
Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simplicity and reach of the open web. With staff in 10 timezones, Isomorphic provides a global network of services related to our technology, with offerings ranging from turnkey application development to SLA-backed enterprise support. Leadin...
While a hybrid cloud can ease that transition, designing and deploy that hybrid cloud still offers challenges for organizations concerned about lack of available cloud skillsets within their organization. Managed service providers offer a unique opportunity to fill those gaps and get organizations of all sizes on a hybrid cloud that meets their comfort level, while delivering enhanced benefits for cost, efficiency, agility, mobility, and elasticity.
DevOps has long focused on reinventing the SDLC (e.g. with CI/CD, ARA, pipeline automation etc.), while reinvention of IT Ops has lagged. However, new approaches like Site Reliability Engineering, Observability, Containerization, Operations Analytics, and ML/AI are driving a resurgence of IT Ops. In this session our expert panel will focus on how these new ideas are [putting the Ops back in DevOps orbringing modern IT Ops to DevOps].
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Concerns about security, downtime and latency, budgets, and general unfamiliarity with cloud technologies continue to create hesitation for many organizations that truly need to be developing a cloud strategy. Hybrid cloud solutions are helping to elevate those concerns by enabling the combination or orchestration of two or more platforms, including on-premise infrastructure, private clouds and/or third-party, public cloud services. This gives organizations more comfort to begin their digital tr...
Most organizations are awash today in data and IT systems, yet they're still struggling mightily to use these invaluable assets to meet the rising demand for new digital solutions and customer experiences that drive innovation and growth. What's lacking are potent and effective ways to rapidly combine together on-premises IT and the numerous commercial clouds that the average organization has in place today into effective new business solutions.
Keeping an application running at scale can be a daunting task. When do you need to add more capacity? Larger databases? Additional servers? These questions get harder as the complexity of your application grows. Microservice based architectures and cloud-based dynamic infrastructures are technologies that help you keep your application running with high availability, even during times of extreme scaling. But real cloud success, at scale, requires much more than a basic lift-and-shift migrati...
David Friend is the co-founder and CEO of Wasabi, the hot cloud storage company that delivers fast, low-cost, and reliable cloud storage. Prior to Wasabi, David co-founded Carbonite, one of the world's leading cloud backup companies. A successful tech entrepreneur for more than 30 years, David got his start at ARP Instruments, a manufacturer of synthesizers for rock bands, where he worked with leading musicians of the day like Stevie Wonder, Pete Townsend of The Who, and Led Zeppelin. David has ...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Addteq is a leader in providing business solutions to Enterprise clients. Addteq has been in the business for more than 10 years. Through the use of DevOps automation, Addteq strives on creating innovative solutions to solve business processes. Clients depend on Addteq to modernize the software delivery process by providing Atlassian solutions, create custom add-ons, conduct training, offer hosting, perform DevOps services, and provide overall support services.