I see where Powerset is going to provide the next generation of Internet Search, and has raised some money from some apparently-smart people. Me, I’ve seen this movie before. Good luck to ’em; they’ll need it.


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From: Doug Cutting (Oct 06 2006, at 10:59)

Cut 'em some slack. It's only called AI or NLP when it doesn't work. Once it works, it becomes ordinary computer science. So let's wait and see. My buddy Mike Cafarella has been doing some neat NLP-related stuff at UW (http://www.cs.washington.edu/research/knowitall/), e.g., extracting high-quality "is-a" relations from large text collections, which is arguably useful stuff. So having access to lots of data and lots of computation does make new things possible. Okay, I'm also a little biased, since PowerSet uses Hadoop...


From: Doug K (Oct 06 2006, at 14:28)

Your earlier post is accurate I think.. Powerset appears to reduce (hah!) to natural language understanding: any solution for that will be far more interesting than better search. I worked on 'expert systems' for the intelligence community in the 80s, with the usual results. My father taught ESL (English as second language) for many decades, which gives an interesting prospect of the difficulties. He spent a good deal of his retirement rooting around in the literature trying to find a plausible account of how to get the ghost into the machine. He is unconvinced, as am I, that this will be possible in our lifetimes. Even if Shakespeare does emerge from the monkeys, it will take a human being to recognize it as Shakespeare - it's all gammon to the monkeys.


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