Re: Whatever happened to Cyc?

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Apr 29 2001 - 03:47:07 MDT

Carl Feynman wrote:
> Does anyone have some kind of inside information about what happened to
> Cyc? The project clearly failed massively to achieve its original
> goals, but they won't admit it and say what went wrong. I've been to
> the website of the corporation that is theoretically selling it
> ( and it's full of upbeat propaganda about how wonderful Cyc is,
> and how it'll be real AI any year now, and we can sell it to you now,
> but we won't tell you what it does. There are also technical papers
> there, none more recent than 1998, and none giving any hint that
> anything was less than hunkydory.

I don't think this level of criticism and critical speculation is
justified when you do not have the facts. Cyc is partially becoming
Open Source in June. Personally I think having access to its millions
of factoids and categories they have could be quite useful.

> It would be very good for the world to publicly disclose what went
> wrong. Right now any attempt at building real AI gets the response "Oh
> yeah? Why isn't this one going to fail like Cyc?" The failure of Cyc
> casts a large diffuse cloud of gloom over the entire field. Disclosing
> what happened would at least sharpen the edges of the cloud, and perhaps
> permit future projects to steer around it.

I don't think so. How many software companies in all areas fail for
each one that really succeeds.

> But I imagine some combination of Cycorp's desire to make money, and
> Doug Lenat's ego, prevents the acknowledgement and analysis of what went
> wrong.

That is beyond what is reasonable and tasteful in my opinion. Could it
be simply that the approach did not pay off soon enough or well enough
or attract enough paying customers to make it a go financially? There
is no reasons to cast aspersions on anyone at this point.

- samantha

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