Thursday, December 13, 2007

Synergistic Learning

There is a sudden surge in applications that leverage the overall user experience by enabling the user with technologies to look at what others are doing with the system and use that additional knowledge in novel ways to let the user make more informed decisions. These enabling technology systems come under the purview of recent educational programs like Human Centered Computing at the intersection of AI, Algorithms, Databases, Computational Semantics, Humanities, Psychology, Sociology and even Economics!

The goals from the point of view of creating better intelligent systems still remain the same, i.e., to do more intelligent machine learning, but now, by exploiting this Social Semantic Infrastructure by way of creating, adapting and learning from it and then studying the implications arising out of it. This is the high level knowledge intensive functional approach of looking at the problem of creating better intelligent systems.

This recent paradigm shift in computing of focusing more towards the 'human' aspect is a major leap for the not so old field of computer science which now, instead of being called a spin-off of mathematics and physical sciences is becoming a true mature science on its own.

Getting back to talking about the recent surge in semantic applications, these basically try to create systems that focus directly on actual task that the system is designed for by helping the user in simple but powerful ways. For example, collaborative and recommendations systems draw analogies from the 'wisdom of the crowds' idea to make decisions based on what the knowledge authorities have to say about it. Such fine-grained systems give the normal user the power to rely on the knowledgeable teacher of teachers that is helping the user carry out her tasks much more efficiently. This 'wisdom of the crowds' concept compares to the machine based equivalent as in statistical machine learning systems which draws inferences using alot of training data.

The emergence of so many novel social applications have been possible because of the recent semantic web standards for interoperability and the open source community projects that enable small teams to build large applications within a short period of time.