Cyc and Google

In preparing for my ESSLLI course and evening lecture in two weeks, I’ve been trying to find out what state Cyc is in these days. I still can’t find any reasonable kind of technical documentation (if you know of any, let me know), but I did find a really cool talk that Doug Lenat, the founder of Cyc, gave at Google last year. I think everyone who works on knowledge-based AI should find an hour to watch this talk really soon. It has a fantastic motivating introduction on why we really need formalized commonsense knowledge, and shows a couple of things that Cyc can do. Of course, this doesn’t answer my original question, but perhaps I can use some of it for my talks anyway.

Now, the other thing that really impressed me is how easy it is to watch Google videos. I knew before that Google records the public talks that people give there and makes them available, but hadn’t really looked at any of them. But what’s really nifty is that you can use the Google Video Player (available for Windows and Mac) and have the video automatically downloaded for offline use, in much better quality than the online video. Now if I could just find a way to read just the subtitles (the entire video is subtitled) without watching the video in realtime, that would be even cooler.

Edit: I finally figured out how to access FACTory, an online game that asks users questions and uses their answers to add more stuff to the Cyc database. This seems like almost exactly the right thing to do, and gives you an idea of what sort of things Cyc knows about. You can find it here (your browser needs to support Java applets), and it’s really fun to play for a bit.


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