Garden Furniture for President!

11 March, 2009

The 8-track player doesn’t work. A quick poke about suggests that the biro stuck inside it is probably not helping, but proper investigation will have to wait until after this week’s Knowledge Based Techniques module.

Despite the 9am starts, this course is really good. It’s on ontologies and taxonomies and the semantic web with a liberal sprinkling of high-quality tangents; for example, the etymology of ‘eudaemon’, the existence of God,  and whether Nelson Mandela is garden furniture*.

At long last, I have some idea of what the semantic web actually is. It’s what you get when you mark up web content to show that, for example, ‘bar’ on a pub website means the same as ‘bar’ on a hotel website but not the same as ‘bar’ on a gymnastics website. This is required for machine processing of information because natural language is not completely unambiguous and logical 😉

* The question posed to the Cyc system was “Is Nelson Mandela African?”. Cyc, not knowing the answer, tried to deduce it on the basis that Africa is in the southern hemisphere, and such places tend to be hot, and in hot places people use garden furniture more, and therefore if Mr Mandela was garden furniture he could well be African. The point was that machines ask stupid questions and you should teach your system not to waste time on them by restricting the domains of relations (people are not furniture).



  1. and the word I’m looking for is…..anyway. That so totally went over my head!

  2. Arg! whenever I look at your blog I end up on the Lojban site 😛

    • Strange. I have no idea how that happened 😉

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