Last month, ontologists who have created some of the most advanced logic systems, agreed at a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) workshop to share their leading-edge concepts on such comprehensive ideas as time, space and process. The promise to cooperate, expressed in a 10-item communiqué* issued at the end of the two-day workshop, eventually could lead to software programs that will equip machines with mutually compatible frames of reference, enabling them to interpret and act on commands with near human common sense.
Efforts to equip machines with artificial intelligence capacity have, up to now, been relatively rudimentary. Software programs might, for instance, give machines used to make furniture considerable "understanding" of terms and frames of reference used in the furniture business. But such collected knowledge known as a "lower ontology" is of limited use, and human operation is necessary at virtually every step in the manufacturing process. A machine empowered by programs that incorporate expanded frames of reference of such "higher ontologies" as space and cost might be able to begin making design and shipping decisions virtually on its own.
"We believe we have planted an historic stake in the ground by enabling the leading upper ontologists throughout the world to come together and sign this agreement to cooperate," says Steven Ray, chief of NIST's Manufacturing Systems Integration Division and coordinator of the Upper Ontology Summit at NIST. The ontologists will use the Internet and future meetings to exchange information on their systems. A second Upper Ontology Summit may be scheduled as part of next year's NIST Interoperability Week events.
*The communiqué can be found at http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?UpperOntologySummit/UosJointCommunique.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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