Freebase March 18, 2007Posted by Andre Vellino in Data Mining, Open Source.
Since I learned that Microsoft bought Medstory and discovered that this specialized medical search engine was developed by a couple of AI veterans (Alain Rappaport and Jay Tenenbaum) I have been wondering what the other luminaries of AI have been up to. Today I discovered that Danny Hillis (formerly of Thinking Machines) has founded Metaweb and its first product is Freebase.
I didn’t understand the value of Freebase at first, but noted with interest their plans to add all of BioMed Central’s open access content into it. The idea pretty simple: its a “Creative Commons Database”. From the Freebase web site:
Freebase.com is home to a global knowledge base: a structured, searchable, writeable and editable database built by a community of contributors, and open to everyone. It could be described as a data commons.
The value of this idea has yet to be demonstrated, but I think this project is quite a bit more interesting than Cyc despite sharing some of Cyc’s world-view about the semantics of structured data. The difference between them is the difference between a web page and a wiki: with Freebase, users can contribute to and enrich not just the information but the interrelations between them. In Cyc, the universe of knowledge is quite a bit more static.
What may well be quite exciting is when this information is intelligently and automatically data-mined for unexpected correlations and inferences. The next step has got to be “Open OLAP” and its associated data-visualization methods.