2013 SemTechBiz West

Machine Learning + Deep NLP: The Quest for Understanding at Cognition

As the Internet of Things expands its reach, more and more of the everyday objects that we surround ourselves with are becoming “smart.” It’s already happening with our phones, our microwaves, our refrigerators, our lighting systems — entire houses are gaining an element of artificial intelligence, allowing us to communicate with objects via language. In most cases, those communications are as basic as possible, i.e. “Dim lights” or “Call Susan.” But with technologists and linguists putting their mental muscle to the test, we will soon find ourselves immersed in an array of objects, tools, and machine-based services that we will be able to converse with using natural language.

One of the experts pushing person-to-machine communication forward is Kathleen Dahlgren, a PhD linguist, adjunct professor at UCLA, and President of Cognition. The company is comprised of “a team of pioneering technologists applying computational linguistics, formal semantics and machine learning to bring you intelligent dialogue with machines.” At the recent Semantic Technology and Business Conference in San Francisco, Kathleen discussed the innovative work she is doing at Cognition using the example of a smart television. Read more

Fighting Global Hunger with Semantics, And How You Can Help

Hunger is a critical issue affecting approximately 870 million people worldwide. With new technologies, research, and telecommunication, we as a global population have the power to significantly reduce the levels of hunger around the world. But in order to accomplish this, the people who have control of the aforementioned research and technology will need to share their data and combine forces to create direct solutions to this global problem.

This is precisely what the good people at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) are working toward. What the IFPRI has to offer is data–data on every country around the world, data about malnutrition, child mortality rates, ecology, rainfall, and much more. With the help of Web Portal Specialists like Soonho Kim, they are working on making that data open and easily accessible, but they are currently facing a number of challenges along the way. Soonho spoke to an intimate group of semantic technology experts at the recent Semantic Technology Conference, sharing the successes of the IFPRI thus far and the areas where they could use some help. Read more

FluidOps Gets Together With Google Glass For Mobile Conference Assistant App

Semantic-based cloud and data management vendor fluidOps has an interesting project underway with Google Glass, which would bring its technology to the wearable computer to help conference attendees explore information about the event they’re at and their fellow participants.

With funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and in cooperation with the Department of Computer Science of the University of Freiburg, the project began this spring. The effort will build upon fluidOps’ existing Conference Explorer web app, which took second place in the Metadata Challenge held as part of the WWW conference last year. Conference Explorer is based on the company’s Information Workbench, a Web-based open platform for the development of Linked Data solutions, and was designed to give users ways to explore events and augment data about them with information from external sources like social networks.

The mobile conference assistant project goes by the name Durchblick, and for Google Glass or head-mounted displays “it takes the information corpus we already have and provides context-sensitive information to the end user,” Dr. Michael Schmidt, fluidOps’ architect, research and development, told The Semantic Web Blog at the Semantic Technology and Business conference held earlier this month.

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Ready, Set, Lightning! 5-Minute Talks at SemTechBiz — Part 2

During the recent Semantic Technology and Business Conference in San Francisco, a motley crew of expert presenters got up in front of a packed room, took a deep breath, and spoke passionately about the semantic projects nearest and dearest to their hearts while the unforgiving clock ticked their five precious minutes away. At the conference I shared highlights from some of those aptly named Lightning Sessions. Here are a few more snappy sessions that captivated the room that day:

Semantic Technology to Shed Light on Big Dark Data with Ben Zamanzadeh, DataPop

DataPop is a startup in the field of semantic advertising. The company seeks to create actionable insights for clients with semantics. As Ben put it, “Ad data is still dark data. Consumer actions are very hard to understand and even harder to predict.” The talk description explains DataPop’s approach: “DataPop’s Semantic Advertising Technology uses Machine Learned Semantic Models to build and analyze advertising campaigns that surpasses conventional advertising capabilities. Composite Semantic Data Models are used to translate Big piles of Data into meaningful entities, then Inference Engines transcribe information such that decisions and strategies can be formed. Semantic Methods has made it possible for us to explain the reasoning behind ‘why’ things happen.” Read more

What Every Semantic Startup Should Know

Earlier this week The Semantic Web Blog gave you an in-depth look at the winner of the Semantic Web Startup Competition at the recent Semantic Technology and Business conference (see story here). Perhaps at next year’s SemTechBiz event, you’d like to be one of the startups in contention for the win – and some money might help you get there.

If so, then it might be helpful to troll through some of the advice that was offered in another session at the conference, which was attended by an audience who self-reported that they either were part of startups and potentially looking for funding, as well as others hoping to start their own venture in a year or so.

Here are some snippets to reflect on:

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Taking Semantics To The C-Level Suite

“The thesis for today: C-Level executives are responsible for achieving the mission,” for assuring that their companies are prepped for the industrial Internet, the era of intelligent machines and heightened consumer and business user expectations of what concepts systems should be able to understand. “If they don’t have a learning or feedback dimension, they’re not in the game.  As we accelerate through the Internet of Things, there is mounting pressure to be able to be agile, adapt, get free from legacy, and move forward. Semantic technologies offer a huge opportunity here.”

On the panel (left to right): Latham, Aucutt, Dunn and Davis

That’s how Project 10x managing director Mills Davis opened the panel discussion, C-Level Semantics: What Executives Want session, at the recent Semantic Technology & Business conference. “New tools, new capabilities to deal with this era of rapid change, as well as to cope with business uncertainties,” he continued, will be welcome.

How to help C-level execs take notice of the opportunity that awaits and the capabilities that are there, or that ideally soon will be? It helps first to understand their everyday concerns. To that end, the panel included two executives that brought to the discussion not just their perspectives as CEO, but also as CEOs of companies whose solutions are dependent on semantic technology. “Doing more with less is more important,” said Phil Aucutt, who is CEO of Edyt.com, which leverages semantic technology for its patent platform service for IP professionals, government and enterprises. “We’re all looking for that little thing that can help us get that much further ahead, and I think semantics is that little thing.”

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Navigating The World Of Open Data On The Web

At a session discussing open data on the web at the Semantic Technology and Business Conference last week, W3C eGov consultant Phil Archer had this to say: That in his mind and the minds of the semantic web technology business people gathered at the event, “Open data is strongly associated with Linked Data, but the world doesn’t necessarily agree with us.”

What they are thinking about: “JSON and CSVs are the kings,” he said. “If you look at open data portals, CSVs [which get converted to JSON files] outweigh Linked Data by a mile,” he noted. And, he said, religious wars between those who see the world as triples vs. CSVs won’t be good for anyone. “If we keep telling the public sector to aim for 5-star data, vs. CSV 3-star data, we are in danger of the whole open data movement collapsing.”

No one wants that, and to address the big picture of realizing the promise of open data, April saw The Open Data on the Web workshop take place. It was organized by the W3C, the Open Data Institute, founded by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Professor Nigel Shadbolt, and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

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Start Your Semantic Engines: TrueCar Looks To Foster Transition Of Vehicle Data From Flat To Structured And Enhanced

Back when he was VP and CTO at Hearst Interactive Media, Mike Dunn advocated the use of semantic technologies for media organizations to rocket-boost their control over content, both for internal operations and for presenting a better face to users out there on the web. (See our story with his insights on that here). Now, Dunn has recently made the move to Truecar, an eight-year-young start-up focused on improving the car-buying process. As CTO, his mission is to modernize its data stack.

How do the two worlds of media and automotive connect? “There’s definitely a connection if you think about content as data,” Dunn told The Semantic Web Blog during a few free moments at the recent Semantic Technology and Business Conference. And, TrueCar gets “the importance of data, even though you don’t always have to throw the semantic web [phrase] in there. But things like sentiment-enhancing and context – those are useful words that don’t confuse people.”

Today, says Dunn, much of the data around vehicles, sales processes, and how cars are customized or configured tends to be fairly flat – that is, either unstructured and/or proprietary, but doors open up when it gains meaning — becomes structured, enhanced and openly known and leveraged from an industry perspective. “That transition, which we believe we’ll be able foster, will allow the creation of additional enhancing services to consumers and the industry at large,” he says.

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FIBO Summit Opening Remarks by EDMC Managing Director Mike Atkin

[Editor’s Note: As our own Jennifer Zaino recently reported, the Enterprise Data Management (EDM) Council, a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to addressing the practical business strategies and technical implementation realities of enterprise data management held a two day FIBO Technology Summit in conjunction with MediaBistro’s Semantic Technology & Business (SemTechBiz) Conference, June 7th and 8th in San Francisco, California.  SemTechBiz was chosen for the summit because of its close proximity to the leading minds in Silicon Valley.
 
In afternoon and morning sessions, lead by distinguished academic and industry leaders, 60 top developers discussed 4 key technology challenges and developed plans that will lead to solutions critical to simultaneously lowering the cost of operations in financial institutions and ensuring the transparency required by regulations put in place since the beginning of the financial crisis of 2008.
 
Michael Atkin, EDM Council Managing Director began the deliberations with the following charge to the assembled experts.]

Photo of Mike Atkin, Managing Director, EDM CouncilI spent the majority of my professional life as the scribe, analyst, advocate, facilitator and therapist for the information industry.   I started with the traditional publishers and then moved on to my engagement in the financial information industry.  I watched the business of information evolve through lots of IT revolutions … from microfiche to Boolean search to CD-ROM to videotext to client server architecture to the Internet and beyond.

At the baseline of everything was the concept of data tagging – as the key to search, retrieval and data value.  I saw the evolution from SGML (which gave rise to the database industry).  I witnessed the separation of content from form with the development of HTML.  And now we are standing at the forefront of capturing meaning with formal ontologies and using inference-based processing to perform complex analysis.

I have been both a witness to (and an organizer of) the information industry for the better part of 30 years.  It is my clear opinion that this development – and by that I mean the tagging of meaning and semantic processing is the most important development I have witnessed.  It is about the representation of knowledge.  It is about complex analytical processing.  It is about the science of meaning.  It is about the next phase of innovation for the information industry.

Let me see if I can put all of this into perspective for you.  Because my goal is to enlist you into our journey.  Read more

FIBO Technology Summit At SemTechBiz: Financial Industry And Sem Tech Leaders Discuss Ontology Evaluation Tools, FLORA-2′s Potential, And More

Last week’s Semantic Technology & Business Conference played host to the FIBO (Financial Business Industry Ontology) Technology Summit. The event, which saw some 60 conference participants from the semantic web, financial industry and other sectors, as well as academia, was led by David S. Newman, SVP & Strategic Planning Manager Enterprise Architecture, at Wells Fargo and Chair of the Enterprise Data Management Council’s Semantics Program, and Dennis E. Wisnosky, founder of Wizdom Systems who is providing technical strategy and operational guidance to the Council for finalizing and implementing FIBO standards.

“This was a tremendous milestone for FIBO and FIBO’s full evolution,” Newman told The Semantic Web Blog following the event. It brought “together a lot of smart people working with semantic technology for a number of years to get their insights into how to further mature FIBO, as well as how to mature the technology, so that FIBO can really resonate with the regulatory community and the financial industry, so that it will have some real solid traction, be able to truly scale to the needs of the constituencies” – that is, not only financial institutions but the entire financial system. Says Newman, “That’s a big, tall order.”

The idea behind FIBO is to standardize the language used to precisely define the terms, conditions, and characteristics of financial instruments; the legal and relationship structure of business entities; the content and time dimensions of market data; and the legal obligations and process aspects of corporate actions. As an open-source, global financial initiative, it is planned to bring health to the financial system, through defining a vast amount of information semantically and providing a better capability for the industry and its regulators to look at more complex patterns and relationships of information in friendlier ways than conventional technology can offer.

At a session following the FIBO Technology Summit at last week’s conference, Wisnosky, also formerly the chief architect and CTO of the Department of Defense, explained one way the financial industry should view FIBO. Today, he said, financial institutions “spend hundreds of millions of dollars gathering data for regulators, with no advantage internally. The carrot [of FIBO] is to reduce those costs.” Ignore the carrot and wait for regulators to ask for more data, and watch costs go up. Added Newman, “if information is highly trustworthy, then the perception of risk regulators have of the financial industry might be lessened, if they can govern and certify an institution aligns with a common data standard, which is FIBO in our proposal.”

During that session, Newman also brought up some of the outcomes of the FIBO Technology Summit, such as discussions that were held about challenges to defining regulatory rules that are more complex and beyond the means of OWL 2 DL and SWRL. In his conversation with The Semantic Web Blog following the conference, he provided more details.

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