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Opening Cyc

A Discussion with OpenCyc's Project Manager

The Cyc Project, an attempt to codify human common sense intelligence, is perhaps the longest-running and most ambitious artificial intelligence project in history. There have been many successes along the way, often resulting from lessons learned through failure. From its inception in 1984, the Cyc Project has intended to share its results with the world and to have the world share its knowledge with Cyc. In fact, massive-scale participation will be essential for Cyc to meet its medium-term goals. With a beta release of OpenCyc now available, the project is finally beginning to extend beyond the walls of Cycorp. This open source subset of the knowledge base ("a small step for man"), will grow significantly in the coming years, both as a result of additional Cycorp contributions and (hopefully) through large-scale participation of those who will share our vision.

At this talk we'll discuss as much of the following as we can fit:

  • What is Cyc and what can it be used for?
  • What do we mean by common sense?
  • What lessons have been learned about what works and what doesn't in AI?
  • What is Cycorp's strategy for giving away Cyc technology?
  • How can massive-scale knowledge collection work?
  • What challenges will Cyc face in the years ahead?

About the Speaker

John DeOliveira, Cycorp

John De Oliveira is Project Manager for OpenCyc, the open source version of the Cyc knowledge base. Mr. De Oliveira joined Cycorp in 1998. His interest in Cyc dates back to 1990, when, while working as a programmer/analyst for a bank in Bermuda, he wrote a LISP-based toy version of Cyc, based solely on the description of it in the book "Building Large Knowledge Based Systems." Prior to joining Cycorp, Mr. De Oliveira had 15 years of experience in information technology, most recently as Executive Director of Information Technology (de facto CIO) for a $100 million direct marketing firm. He became an Equity Partner in the firm in 1996.

Mr. De Oliveira received a B.A. in English/Drama from LeMoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. and completed all of the computer science coursework toward a B.S. in Computer Science. He has completed coursework toward an MBA in Information Technology at Boston University and toward an M.A. in Educational Technologies at the University of New Mexico. Interests include intelligent tutoring systems, large-scale knowledge acquisition, and tinkering with Python, XML, XSLT, and (just recently) microelectronics.