Exploiting Large-Scale Semantics on the Web
There is a lot of evidence indicating that the semantic web is growing very rapidly. For example, an IBM report published last year indicated a 300% increase between 2003 and 2004 and pointed out that the rate of growth of the semantic web is mirroring that of the web in its early days. Indeed, repositories such as Swoogle already contain thousands of ontologies and hundreds of millions of RDF triples. Thus, a large scale semantic web is rapidly becoming a reality and therefore we are quickly reaching the point where we can start thinking about a new generation of intelligent applications, capable of exploiting such large scale semantic markup. Of course, while the semantic web provides an exciting opportunity, it also introduces very complex challenges. For example, the available semantic markup is extremely heterogeneous both with respect to its ontological profile and also to its degree of quality and to the level of trust that can be assigned to it. These features of the semantic web introduce an element of complexity, which was absent from traditional knowledge-based systems, where data quality was under the control of the developers, and provenance and heterogeneity did not apply. In my talk I will discuss these issues in some detail, and in particular I will describe the emerging semantic landscape and highlight some of the distinctive features characterizing the new generation of applications, which will be enabled by a large scale semantic web. In my presentation I will also present some concrete initial prototypes of this new generation of semantic applications, which exploit available large scale web semantics, to provide new ways to support question answering, information extraction and web browsing.