SSSW Day 4

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This day no theoretical talks, but instead two invited speakers - and much social programme, with a lunch at a swimming pool and a dinner in Segovia. Segovia is a beautiful town, with a huge, real, still standing roman aqueduct. Stunning. And there I ate the best pork ever! The aqueduct survived the huge earthquake of Lisbon of 1755, although houses around it crumbled and broke. This is, because it is built without any mortar - just stone over stone. So the stones could swing and move slightly, and the construction survived.
Made me think of loosely coupled systems. I probably had too much computer science the last few days.

The talks were very different today: first was Mike Woolridge of the University of Liverpool. He talked about Multiagent Systems in the past, the present and the future. He identified five trends in computing: Ubiquity, Interconnection, Intelligence, Delegation and Human-orientation.
His view on intelligence was very interesting: it is about the complexity of tasks that we are able to automate and delegate to computers. He quoted John Alan Robertson - the guy who invented resolution calculus, a professor of philosophy - as exclaiming "This is Artificial Intelligence!", when he saw a presentation of the FORTRAN compiler at a conference. I guess the point was, don't mind about becoming as intelligent as humans, just mind at getting closer.
"The fact that humans were in control of cars - our grandchildren will be quite uncomfortable with this idea."

The second talk was returning to the Semantic Web in a very pragmatic way: how to make money with it? Richard Benjamins of iSOCO just flew in from Amsterdam where he was at the SEKT meeting, and he brought promising news about the developing market for Semantic Web technologies. Mike Woolridge was criticizing Richard's optimistic projections and noted that he also, about ten years ago, spent a lot of energy and money into the growing Multiagent market - and lost most of it. It was an interesting discussion - Richard being the believer, Mike the sceptic, and a lot of young people betting a few years worth of life on the ideas presented by the first one...

Originally published on Semantic Nodix

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