Saturday, January 29, 2005

Google's search for meaning: "Computers can learn the meaning of words simply by plugging into Google. The finding could bring forward the day that true artificial intelligence is developed."

"Paul Vitanyi and Rudi Cilibrasi of the National Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, realised that a Google search can be used to measure how closely two words relate to each other."

"To gauge just how closely, Vitanyi and Cilibrasi have developed a statistical indicator based on these hit counts that gives a measure of a logical distance separating a pair of words. They call this the normalised Google distance, or NGD. The lower the NGD, the more closely the words are related."

"The pair's results do not surprise Michael Witbrock of the Cyc project in Austin, Texas, a 20-year effort to create an encyclopaedic knowledge base for use by a future artificial intelligence. Cyc represents a vast quantity of fundamental human knowledge, including word meanings, facts and rules of thumb.

"Witbrock believes the web will ultimately make it possible for computers to acquire a very detailed knowledge base. Indeed, Cyc has already started to draw upon the web for its knowledge. 'The web might make all the difference in whether we make an artificial intelligence or not,' he says."

That the Web would be a source of artificial intelligence makes sense given that one could argue it is really a huge mass of collective intelligence.

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