Semantic technologies are gaining ground in the world of Big Data. This interview focuses on some applications in various parts of the industry.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing the audience to Ontotext. Tell us who you are, where you’re based, and what kind of work you are doing.
Atanas Kiryakov: I founded Ontotext in the year 2000. We were one of the leading sites globally for artificial intelligence in the 80s through the 90s. We started the company based on two types of technology. One of them was expert systems and reasoning. That’s what allows computers to infer new knowledge from existing facts or data. The other one is computational linguistics and natural language processing, which helps you analyze and understand bits and pieces of text to extract new information and relationships.
We started off with these two pieces with the vision of making a new generation technology that combines the best in the database world with the best in the search engine world. With some artificial intelligence (AI), you end up with something that’s in the middle of search engine and database. It’s also intelligent in the way expert systems were intelligent in the 80s and the 90s. That’s where we started.
Back in 2000, it was just the beginning of the hype for semantic web. It was Mr. Tim Berners Lee who shaped this vision about next generation web of data that is meaningful not just for human consumption, but also for computers to consume data off the web and be able to automatically answer questions or solve problems based on that information. The typical example back then was an agent that goes out to settle websites and helps you organize the trip. It was about being able to retrieve good quality, precise information about schedules and fare, and having all the logic of what it takes to organize the trip and at the end of the day, making good engines for you. To implement this vision, you need next generation web that is not just HTML, but rather something beyond HTML that allows data consumption, interpretation, and understanding. That was the big vision. It’s called semantic web.
Nowadays, the same thing is seeing quite a boom in the name of open data and linked open data. Back in 2000, it was in its very beginning. We started with our vision based on reasoning and expert systems on one hand, and text mining and search engine on the other. We took the mission to implement the technology for this next generation semantic web.