OpenCyc wants to be the backbone of semantic web

The human brain provides inspiration for artif...Image via Wikipedia

Cyc is one of the most notorious projects in artificial intelligence. Now spanning for over 20 years it has yet to deliver on initial promise of human-reasoning capabilities. While initial goals were too ambitious, we should still be quite happy with the achievements. Especially now when it seems Cycorp (owner of Cyc) is seeing the potential in opening up its knowledge base to third party developers. Yesterday OpenCyc was released under CreativeCommons 3!

OpenCyc is probably currently bast available and open ontology of the world. This means it is a large database of concepts that we humans use when we think about the world. This includes things such as  “game” and “Valentine’s day“, but also relationships between things such as “biological grandmother” or “created by“. While all this is easy for humans, it is hard for computers. Now OpenCyc is building a common vocabulary so computers will be able to understand the information and not just pass it around.

Part of an ontology of the vehicle domainStill large gap exists between plain text and information that computers would understand and be able to reason about. Zemanta’s API can be seen as providing part of the solution (text in, structured information out), but we currently don’t yet directly support OpenCyc concepts (however Freebase is available). We hope we’ll be able to find a way to connect to OpenCyc in the future and we are always glad to hear what our API users would like to see! So please let us know! Would this be interesting to you?

As for end users not caring about the APIs, ontologies and similar, what’s the point? Well it’s simple: you’ll get better suggestions.

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