The Semantic Web: The Origins of Artificial Intelligence Redux
Introduction. The World Wide Web is considered by many to be the most significant computational phenomenon yet, although even by the standards of computer science its development has been chaotic. While the promise of artificial intelligence to give us machines capable of genuine human-level intelligence seems nearly as distant as it was during the heyday of the field, the ubiquity of the World Wide Web is unquestionable. If anything it is the Web, not artificial intelligence as traditionally conceived, that has caused profound changes in everyday life. Yet the use of search engines to find knowledge about the world is surely in the spirit of Cyc and other artificial intelligence programs that sought to bring all world knowledge together into a single database. There are, upon closer inspection, both implicit and explicit parallels between the development of the Web and artificial intelligence. The Semantic Web effort is in effect a revival of many of the claims that were given at the origins of artificial intelligence. In the oft-quoted words of George Santayana, “those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” There are similarities both in the goals and histories of artificial intelligence and current developments of the Web, and in their differences the Web may find a way to escape repeating the past.