Charles Young

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Saturday, August 20, 2011 #

Peter Norvig and Sebastian Thrun are offering a free on-line course on AI later this year in conjunction with Stanford University. The course is broadly based on Peter Norvig's book "Artificial Intelligence: A modern Approach" written jointly with Stuart Russell. Along with my colleagues on the Rules Fest committee, we have been following this with interest. In a few days, well over 100,000 people have signed up (112,774 at the time of writing, and still increasing fast). The course broadly overlaps with our natural areas of interest at Rules Fest which is all about the practical application of reasoning technologies in real-world computing. It is very encouraging to us to see the huge interest this course is generating. We will doubtless be contacting Peter, yet again, to see if he will speak at next year's conference (we keep plugging away at this).
 
In another development, we all woke up to the news a couple of days ago that HP, as part of its dramatic change in strategy, has bid almost $11Bn to acquire enterprise search company, Autonomy. Autonomy offers proprietary technology that exploits Bayes theorem, Shannon's information theory and specific forms of SVD to create an intelligent search platform with learning capabilities. Clearly, HP sees this type of technology as playing a major and lucrative role in their future.
 
Some time ago, at an event organised by the excellent BizTalk Users' Group in Sweden, I was asked to do a little crystal ball gazing. I trotted out the line that the next few years will see AI-related and reasoning technologies, formally thought of as esoteric and impractical, find their place at the heart of enterprise computing alongside existing investments in traditional LoB/Back Office applications and integration services. With the advent of cloud computing and platforms such as Azure, we have the horsepower available to make this a practical and feasible possibility for mainstream enterprise computing. AI used to be a dirty word. No longer!