RE: [JOIN] Stephen Reed

From: Stephen Reed (
Date: Mon May 20 2002 - 11:02:14 MDT

On Mon, 20 May 2002, ben goertzel wrote:

> I have studied Cyc somewhat closely -- I taught CycL in my AI class this
> semester; and talked to Lenat as well as the Cycorp CEO (I forget his name
> at the moment!) about a year ago, when I was considering the possibility of
> going to work there.

Dwight Lodge is no longer with Cycorp. The VC opportunities and IPO market
are still bad for us. But the government funding is steady and Darpa has
an appreciation now for ontologies and our role as a common domain

> I think the Cyc database will be a useful resource for an AGI someday, but
> I personally don't have much optimism that the AI approach being taken at
> Cycorp is going to lead to an AGI of any robustness and real generality,
> flexibility and creativity....

[details snipped]

> Of course, one reaction you might have to this is "Sure, I kind of agree
> with your points, but our current system is not supposed to be a true AGI,
> just a partway-there system.... We're approaching the problem from the
> direction of 'crisp, concise propositions about named concepts' and
> 'logical inference with predicate logic & bayesian probabilities'. We
> know we're far from a true AGI, but so is everybody else, and we think what
> we're doing now may be a good platform for future work in directions
> similar to the ones you suggest."

Exactly this is my reaction: Sure I agree with your points, but our
current system is not supposed to be a true AGI...
> If this is your reaction, then what I would like to see is a paper or book
> addressing the "grand Cyc vision" -- i.e. what do you (or Lenat etc.)
> envision Cyc (the database and the AI system) looking like in, say, 5-20
> years, when you have overcome limitations like the ones I've cited above
> and made a more fully fleshed out AI system? Are there internal Cycorp
> documents addressing this sort of thing?

I wish! Our system is so large, and our projects so pressing, that our day
to day focus is almost entirely incremental - just getting Cyc's
vocabulary more functional, and Cyc's deductive reasoning more
supportive. Doug has a vision of what will happen, but it is more
opportunistic, postponing the details until Cyc knows enough to learn from
reading (for example). Doug's view on Cyc's progress in five years are
published for the public in many popular articles which you can get from

With the continuing reorganization of managers (all the staff wants to
work on AI - not manage others), we now have a small management team in
which the goal of creating an AI has begun to shape the features we
enhance or add. As I have pointed out, we have over 60 people (over
20 Ph.Ds) whose efforts I can somewhat influence. OpenCyc is a mechanism
for others to contribute their own, possibly quite different ideas on how
to use/improve Cyc technology.

> In terms of my own work, I think the Cyc DB could potentially be
> interesting to feed into Novamente (my own AI system, which is more
> integrative in nature and less strictly focused on logic, although it does
> have a probabilistic inference component; see for some
> nontechnical info). I suspect I could also learn something from the way
> you've specialized Cyc's inference engines to deal with particular types of
> information, even though Novamente's inference engine does not use a
> predicate logic foundation.

Looking forward to collaboration.

Warm regards,

Stephen L. Reed                  phone:  512.342.4036
Cycorp, Suite 100                  fax:  512.342.4040
3721 Executive Center Drive      email:
Austin, TX 78731                   web:
         download OpenCyc at

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