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Web 3.0, A Witness Protection Program For Artificial Intelligence

The Semantic Web or Web 3.0 is coming. If we look at Web 2.0 as window dressing, the real shopping will come when Web 3.0 opens its doors for business. Some say Semantic Technology and Web 3.0 are two separate entities. They will co-exist but develop separately. While that debate will continue for some time, what we do know is our online lives are going to get a major assistance from artificial intelligence in the brave new world of the 'intelligent Web.'

Some joke about it being the ultimate "Revenge of the Nerds." Others see it more seriously as an approach to allow everyone to record data assertions about the real world based on individual observations to 'make sense' of what we perceive. If we think about the next revolution of the Internet storing all the possible relationships between things, what some refer to as ontologies - that compendium of information will become the resource from which we will draw on in the future.

In our current era of privacy concerns with Facebook and Google, the next decade will see an ushering in of pull technology replacing push. This will address a lot of the security issues we face today. Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents will pull information for us based on the parameters we establish and control. They will then deliver it to the social networks that exist inside our own data networks that we supervise - dissimilar to Facebook's Open Graph philosophy.

Valeria MaltoniValeria MaltoniAccording to Valeria Maltoni, brand strategy and co-author of The Age of Conversation, "Web 3.0 is the true era of conversation, where the real dialogue begins." She sees the next generations of browsers as 'smart clients' working online and offline to facilitate connections of one's AI agents with someone else's AI agents, similar to how humans currently match up experts with various business opportunities.

"Our agents will in turn carry out sophisticated tasks for users, making meaningful connections between bits of Sir Tim Berners-LeeSir Tim Berners-Leeinformation so that "computers can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the Web," notes its originator, Internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee,


In a previous post titled "The New Industrial Revolution Sabotages Social Media!,"  I talked to Peter Sweeney, founder of the semantic technology firm Primal Fusion. He described Web 3.0 as the next industrial revolution, where "automation of tasks displaces human work… and instead of users manually creating content, machines will take on the heavy lifting." Sort of like a futuristic assembly line.

If you don't believe that this type of technology is imminent, just look around you at the examples that have already emerged:
  • Google News: A computer-generated news site where the articles are selected and ranked by computers.
  • Kosmix: A "categorization engine" that organizes the Internet into magazine-style topic pages.
  • Wolfram Alpha: A  "knowledge computation engine" that dynamically calculates facts in response to questions.
  • Yebol: Just out of beta, a new search engine that uses the Amazon Cloud to build a knowledge base for a bout 10 million concepts over 1 billion web pages.
Kate Ray, a journalism/pyschology major at NYU just finished producing a 14-minute short film titled Web 3.0 where she interviewed a number of well-known researchers of the Semantic Web, including Tim Berners-Lee, Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizaitons, and Chris Dixon, CEO of Hunch.

Since the Internet currently holds as much information as 1700 Libraries of Congress, these experts sliced and diced what our 'brave new world' will look like. While there are a lot of opposing views, the one constant that seems to run through most of the revelations that surfaced in this film is that humans all have different relationships between things, and the Semantic Web doesn't require everyone to agree on the same ontologies. The idea is for everyone to build up their own ontologies, but to have some standard means of connecting them together.  That's the major challenge of Web 3.0.

Ray's short movie provides a forum for the experts to share their insights regarding that challenge.

Web 3.0 from Kate Ray on Vimeo.



Many of the thought leaders noted in this blog are split on the timing of Web 3.0. Participants in the recent "Future of the Internet" study were asked to agree or disagree with Tim Berners-Lee's belief that the Semantic Web will be effectively a part of our lives by 2020. Among 371 technology experts, 38% agreed and 52% disagreed.

So will artificial intelligence become the service providers of our future as the Internet evolves into its next generation? All indicators seem to say 'yes.'  And for those that feel Semantic  Web and Web 3.0 are not one and the same -- until we fully get our heads around harnessing the Web through automation, I think what we actually label it -- will remain purely a matter of semantics… don't you?

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Ron Callari
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