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Building on Machine Learning and Classical AI to Achieve Semantic Understanding

Over the last few years, there has been an on-going, vigorous debate regarding the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and what needs to be developed. The debate comes down to using only machine learning technologies (based on different mathematical models and performing correlation/pattern analysis) versus using a combination of machine learning and “classical AI” (i.e., rules-based and expert systems). (Note that no one believes that rules-based systems alone are enough!) You can read about those debates in numerous articles (such as in the MIT Technology ReviewZDNet’s summary of the December 2020 second debate, and Ben Dickson’s TechTalks). 

Given my focus on knowledge engineering, I tend to land on the side of the “hybrid” approach (spearheaded by Gary Marcus in the debates) that combines ML and classical AI, and then I add on ontologies (to provide formal descriptions of the semantics of things and their relationships and rules). 

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