I have moved

July 27th, 2008 by jose

I’m now at the Max Planck institute for Human Development, Berlin.

I’ll be working on the large Knowledge Collider project (), an EU grant that aims to create a platform for real-time reasoning on the semantic web.

The semantic web is being around for years, but only now it’s getting enough momentum. This is an area where I think what we know about semantics in psychology may make an important contribution.

This is called web 3.0 and is supposed to be the next big thing.

What’s interesting about Web 3.0
The basic idea is that the web is written for humans who read text; but it could be a lot more useful if it was also written for machines that can ‘reason’ on structured information. Right now, a machine can do much inference on propositions. The basic unit on the semantic web is the RDF triplet, which is basically a [SUBJ, VERB, OBJ] proposition.

Many existing databases are converted to a format that is, basically, a propositional analysis. But most of the web is, of course, plain text and not amenable to straight conversion between some other structured format to RDF. There are ongoing efforts to do this automatically from plain text. And, as happens with ‘automatic propositional analysis’, it’s not very good. But the fact that some companies do have databases (which are structured information, and easily translated into RDF triplets) is very promising.

Imagine that a spider for a search engine could read on the amazon webpage:
[JoseQuesada, likes, Kintsch-12345]
[Kintsch-12345, hasTitle, Comprehension]

Or from the wikipedia page:
[Kennedy, said, Prop-9876]
Prop9876: [Ich, bin, ein-Berliner]

Then, a machine could draw a lot of interesting inferences; and browsing the web will not need to be reduced to keyword matching: people could construct queries in a language that operates with RDF (SPARQL) or we could make search engines to translate natural language into SPARQL.

If all this sounds to you like ‘making the web a humongous database’ or ‘the return of good old-fashioned AI’, you may be right.

The challenge now is to write something that can do reasoning with trillions of propositions in something close to real time. This larKC project puts together people from parallel computing, cogSci, and hardcore reasoning people to create a service like that. It has funding for 3 years.

I will be posting more on semantic web stuff here (when appropriate) but mostly on the .

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you !

6 Responses to “I have moved”

  1. Benjamin GoeringNo Gravatar Says:

    This sounds super interesting to me. I’m going to be an Undergraduate freshman this fall, majoring in Computer Science and doubling in Political Science. I was considering triple majoring in Cognitive Psychology, but don’t think I can get that done in four years.

    If I wanted to pursue studies like this, what classes would you reccomend? Any books that are very good on the subject?

  2. darioNo Gravatar Says:

    That’s yummie, Jose. The larkc blog link is broken though.

  3. joseNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks Dario, fixed.

  4. joseNo Gravatar Says:

    Tough call re: triple major, but doable.
    If you are doing computer science, you will be introduced to the semantic web stuff. It’s changing rapidly, so a book may be outdated very fast; still there are plenty of books out there to cover the basics.

    If you mean classes/books re: relationship between cognitive Psychology and semantic web, well, then I think there’s little. I’d love to be proved wrong.

  5. Matthew CornellNo Gravatar Says:

    A tremendous congratulations, Jose! Great news. They’re lucky to have you.

  6. joseNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks Matthew!
    : I think the semantic web primer book (MIT) may be about as good an introduction as you can get:


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