Saturday, December 3, 2016

Symbiosis of Language Technology and AI at LT-Accelerate



AI and Natural Language Processing propel each other, because most of human knowledge and interaction is textual. What is textual is globally always multilingual. The LT-Accelerate Conference (Brussels, Nov 20-21) focuses on Text Analytics, AI, and related subjects. The speakers, CEO of SMEs, project leads/data scientist of larger companies, and NLP/AI researchers, provided amazing insights into the progress the field has made in the last year. 

Needless to say, also here the industry’s buzzwords Deep, Neural, Machine Learning are ubiquitous. Luckily innovators have become much better in explaining the concepts behind and how to use them. Open Source Software puts these powerful tools also in the hand of smaller teams. Matthew Honnibal from spaCy summarized on use case nicely: “You shall know a word by the company it keeps”.

Michalis Michael, CEO of DigitalMR, sets the bar high for state-of-the-art text analytics. The sentiment accuracy and topic match has to be >80% while significantly reducing noise. Only by supporting all languages enterprises become omniscient. Human emotions are slightly more complex than Positive/Neutral/Negative. HeartBeat AI, for example, features a comprehensive emotion model. Text analytics needs to be meaningfully integrated in existing surveys and other data sources. Profiling allows customer segmentation by demographics or other derived variables. 

Demanding requirements, but when done right text analytics strongly correlates with survey results. Only that it is much cheaper. Therefore the industry is bullish that their currently still small 3% share of the $65B spent annually on market research will grow dramatically.

Mike Hyde, former Skype’s Director of Data and Insights, explained why Bots are the new Apps. These bots need to understand language. They must have access to and make sense of enterprises knowledge. And the bots have to be polyglot. A rich playing field for language technology deployed on top of a Multilingual Knowledge System.

Many believe Machine Learning can do miracles. And ML does, as long as there are mountains of good data at hand. For example, Google claims to have outperformed humans in lip reading (automatic speech recognition of vids is at 95-98% accuracy, so lots of data). Microsoft claims that they do as well as humans in describing pics in one sentence. 

However, often there aren't humongous amount of data available. Obviously “>80%” accuracy doesn’t cut it, when applications deal with serious matters such as health, legal, or money. The community agrees that for most use cases Machine Learning needs to be based on human knowledge: on taxonomies, ontologies, and terms.
 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Tackling Important Knowledge Needs in Manufacturing

A multilingual knowledge system (MKS) combines language, such as multilingual terminology, with knowledge, a graph connecting the concepts via relations. The most common type of relation is the hierarchical one, also known as broader/narrower or parent/child relation. Such a hierarchically structured concept system is often also referred to as a taxonomy.

Many taxonomies that we see in real life are used to categorize vast amounts of information into classes and sub-classes of information, namely from more generic to more specific. So that us humans can navigate and find them in an easy and meaningful way: books in libraries, types of goods in an online shop, or even a classification of industries – for instance the Industry Classification Benchmark (ICB). Fine.

Concept Systems to Model Products, Modules, Components
Now, manufacturers use multilingual knowledge systems to capture the language, the labeling of their products, modules, and components that make up their goods. Also in this scenario large amounts of concepts (pieces, parts, assembled components) are put in relation to each other. Let us imagine a manufacturer that produces bicycles. A bicycle – the broadest concept – then consists of a frame, handlebar and saddle, wheels and brakes, the propulsion etc. Also these concepts are in a hierarchical relation to each other. However, in contrast to classification systems or nomenclatures, the broader-narrower relation that we see here is more to be understood as an is-part-of respectively consists-of relation: A spoke reflector is-part-of a wheel (... yes, experts in linguistics and semantics already know that I talk about the so-called meronomy here).

Re-Using Parts and Components
Of course, in manufacturing processes components are re-used everywhere, like from a library or a construction kit: one component – i.e. a concept in the knowledge system – becomes part of several modules; it is assembled into several products. For instance, a wheel is part of the front fork as well as the rear frame. This means, in an MKS, the concept 'wheel' must appear two times, once as a child concept to 'front fork', once as a child concept to 'rear frame' (and probably also again and again in different types of bicycles). How can we model this in an MKS?
The obvious and immediate answer to this is usually that an MKS must support so-called polyhierarchical structures: the graph may not be a simple tree but must support multiple parent relations. Of course, Coreon's MKS does support polyhierarchies – multiple inheritance from parent to child nodes. Last but not least, this is also a mandatory requirement for classification-like taxonomies: in the taxonomy of a construction market's online shop the marketeers may want to file 'silicone' both underneath 'bath / ceramics' as well as under 'building materials'.

Polyhierarchical Relations alone are not Sufficient
However, in the manufacturing context above mentioned polyhierarchies do not yet address the requirement to a satisfying degree. Why?
  1. Efficiency: Manage the concept only once. It would be absolutely inefficient to store the common information about a wheel as often as it is used in a bicycle. Maintainers rather want to elaborate on a concept only once, describe it, illustrate it with images, incorporate all terms, synonyms in all languages.
  2. Different children concepts ("sub-maps"): Depending under which parent a concept is hooked, it can have different children concepts. For instance, the wheel being part of the front fork has additionally the part, i.e. the narrower concept, 'dynamo', whereas the wheel being part of the rear frame is additionally equipped with the 'rear brake'.
These two requirements together ask for a solution that goes beyond polyhierarchies. How does Coreon address this?

Aliases: Re-using a Concept in the Map
Coreon's MKS resolves this by its unique "Alias" capability. A functionality that makes one and the same concept show up several times in the concept system. Intuitive and powerful, aliases work like shortcuts, like placeholders. How does it work?
Instead of hooking the concept 'wheel' two times under different parent concepts or (even worse) instead of inefficiently storing 'wheel' and all its information and terms multiple times in the repository, we do store 'wheel' only once with all its terms, meta data, illustrations. Then a maintainer creates one alias to 'wheel' underneath 'front fork' and another alias underneath 'rear frame'. Both aliases are just shortcuts and point to one and the same referent concept, but make it explicit that wheel is part of the front fork as well as the rear frame. A future change made to the referent concept, for instance, add another language, is immediately visible also via the aliases. Requirement 1) – efficiency – is addressed.
Further, an alias itself does exist as a physical node in the knowledge graph; it can have a complete set of own relations: broader/narrower as well as associative ones. Thus requirement 2) – different sub-maps – is addressed, since one alias can have another set of narrower concepts than the other alias.


Coreon: aliases in a concept map
Aliases in a concept map


Have a look at the screenshot and notice two things: 1) the different rendering of the aliases in the concept map (the ones with the curvy arrow) and, 2), aliases pointing to the same referent concept have indeed different children: the wheel built into the front fork additionally has a dynamo, the wheel built into the rear frame has a rear brake. And, of course, aliases can have aliases as narrower concepts, too (see 'spoke reflector').

With this unique capability manufacturers benefit from an efficient and effective way to model products, modules, and components via a Multilingual Knowledge System.

I've written this post with a particular view onto the needs for global manufacturers, companies that develop and ship products. I'd be interested to hear opinions how aliases help in classification and nomenclature-like activities.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gartner Strategically Adds Enterprise Taxonomy

Gartner recently published its annual report "Hype Cycle For Emerging Technologies 2016" which for the first time includes Enterprise Taxonomy and Ontology.  However, enterprise taxonomy has been placed into Gartner's Through of Disillusionment (ToD). Over-selling leads to hype which is naturally followed by the ToD after failing to deliver on exaggerated expectations.  Anyhow, in Gartner's model this is the way forward to reach success i.e. the Plateau of Productivity. Actually, Enterprise Taxonomy has never been a real hype. It was introduced by Gartner because it is gaining ground after being around for quite a while in the US market. Enterprise Taxonomy both underpins Information Infrastructures (Separate Gartner Report 2016) as well as being a"Smart machine technology that will revolutionize manufacturing and its related industries".

Enterprise taxonomy has struggled through many years without professional editing and management software.  Still, it has pushed its way into tool box of CIOs as it has proved to be extremely useful. Today, browser-based software is available to support taxonomy assets in SaaS model. Coreon, for example, supports seamlessly the creation, management, and deployment of enterprise taxonomies. Terms in multiple languages are easily introduced into the asset. Search APIs enable the integration of the knowledge assets into all kind of applications. This matches the enterprise need to fully support the taxonomy process also on a global scale in multiple languages. Such global knowledge resource is called a Multilingual Knowledge System.

Recently Multilingual Knowledge Systems have become also synonymous with cross-border interoperability. They support one of the most important initiatives of the CEC, the Digital Single Market and underpin the future of the EU. Surely soon European companies will follow the best practice of US enterprises to structure their knowledge to best serve a multilingual market. Actually European industry could forge ahead and take the lead!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Centuple your Market with Language-neutral Product Search

A German and an Italian go on a Polish online shop… Sounds like a start of a bar joke? The situation indeed seems bizarre in spite of all the EU propaganda about the Digital Single Market. The German and the Italian simply won’t understand a single word. They cannot find any products in this Polish shop.

 

Easy Fix Translation?

Translating static content and product catalogues into English will surely help. In some EU countries half of the population has a satisfying passive command of English. However, that percentage becomes quickly minuscule when consumers have to enter the right English search term for a specific domain. Translation into all or even only into mayor languages is in almost all cases cost prohibitive.

 

Domestic Customers have a Hard Time, too!

For domestic customers it’s not easy to find products either. Today’s string based search often returns no matches. Or it finds too many, displayed in unintuitively sorted lists, which has the same effect. Instead of searching semantically for what the customers wants, online shops expect their customers to enter the very same strings they have used in their catalogues.

 

Scroll Hit Lists or Explore Product Offering?

Search results are displayed in list of matches, a column of product names or tiles of product images. But what if there are plenty of matches in multiple categories? An alternative, more natural way would be to display the search result graphically in a product tree with related products closely organized. This way the shopper can quickly find the product she was actually looking for and is motivated to buy more.

 

Social Shopping

E-commerce has increased the buying options to a degree, which leaves many consumers completely lost. Therefore online shoppers often rely on third party information such as tests, feedbacks, blogs, etc. to make a buying decision. Shops want to give their customers the comforting feeling of having made an informed and good decision, without having to leave the shop.

 

Solution Architecture for Advanced Linguistic Product Search

All the above requirements, particularly the semantic and cross-language search, can be relatively easily fulfilled by deploying Advanced Linguistic Search (ALS) on top of a Multilingual Knowledge System (MKS). The following chart illustrates the architecture for finding products semantically and language-neutral:




The ALS deals with language specifics such as morphology, spelling variations, etc. Deployed with the MKS it can expand searches semantically and across-languages. The MKS stores the product knowledge in different languages. Its knowledge graph is used for product exploration. Relevant products are listed by semantical proximity, not string match scores. Alternately the shopper can explore the offering in a product graph. Supporting third party information is provided, machine translated if originally in a different language, to help the consumer to make buying decisions without leaving the shop.

 

Find, Upsell, Advice = Higher Revenue

The above solution, based on a Multilingual Knowledge System such as Coreon, enables online shops to sell much more. Without ongoing translation efforts, shops can drastically extend their customer base in the Digital Single Market. For shops in almost half of the EU countries that increase would be hundredfold!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Five Days of Terminology Best Practices: the Summer School 2016 in Vienna

Summer time, summer schools: Just last week in Bologna the 12th Semantic Web Summer School or in Santiago de Compostela a course on Keyword Search in Linked Data ...
And of course, as every year, also in the domain of Multilingual Knowledge we see interesting summer schools. We contributed again to the Terminology Summer School. This five day event is a round-trip through best practices, business and legal views, standards and peripheral aspects of terminology work.
This year it was organised by TermNet and took place in Vienna from 11-15 July. I'd like to share a couple of personal highlights from the five days.

International!
The first highlight for me was already the very international atmosphere! Participants from many different organisations, smaller and larger companies, as well as universities from all across the globe made it indeed an International Terminology Summer School.
Participants
(c) TermNet


Fundamental!
Why and How - the first two days focused on the very basic fundamentals of terminology management, termbase configurations. Klaus-Dirk Schmitz from TH Cologne outlined basics such as the terminological triangle (concept - object - term), introduced some key terms of terminology modeling (synonymy, homonymy, polysemy) as well as concept systems and concept relations. - I've picked up on this and elaborated it in our presentation on Multilingual Knowledge Systems.
In his 2nd session Klaus went already a bit more into details, namely into the world of data categories how to flexibly and accurately describe and classify concepts or terms.
In his 3rd session he then focused on the challenges and approaches to exchange and harmonize terminology resources. Klaus also emphasized that exchanging of terminologies is not only a syntactical question - pretty addressed through the exchange standard TBX - but also a semantical challenge, namely when it comes to mapping the meaning and occurrence of different data categories!

Valuable!
A further set of interesting lessons hovered around the business value of terminology. Beate Früh from büro b3 as well as Frieda Steurs from the KU Leuven touched on the monetary aspects.
Beate ("How to present the business case") outlined the necessary steps and tools to make a business case for terminology and how to find the budget for it: Problem analysis, evaluation of risks without managed terminology is followed by a detailed plan including a SWOT analysis as well as covering strategic and operative aspects. She further outlined means to get commitment from top level management. Her presentation ended with the recommendation to not forget about the power of examples - to make the value of terminology very tangible.
Frieda ("Economic aspects ... ") looked into the return on investment of terminology workflows. She emphasized the challenge of the vast amount of information created every day. For instance, the 2013 IKEA catalog, the main marketing tool of the company, has ~ 300 pages covering ~12.000 products, it is created in 62 different versions for 42 countries in 30 languages. We live in a knowledge driven society, but we suffer information overload. "Knowledge is wealth, the intrinsic asset of companies, knowledge is represented by language!" However, while terminology is the carrier of knowledge it is often only considered as a cost factor instead of seeing it as a tool to boost quality and efficiency. To argue, Frieda provided the participants with a fireworks of arguments for terminology: efficiency when entering foreign markets, avoidance of communication errors, liability claims, product failures, even human injuries, or marketing issues. She also provided the participants with formulas and guidelines to calculate the ROI of terminology work

Practical!
Besides all the rather theoretic "how-to" lessons, we've seen many presentations from the participants themselves: during these late afternoon sessions participants shared highly versatile insights into how and why their organisations and companies manage terminology.

I am looking forward to the next summer school which will take place in Cologne in July 2017, and then 2018 again in Vienna ...
And, in case you wonder about other summer schools - you will certainly find other inspiring ones at www.summerschoolsineurope.eu!

And, of course, TermNet, the organizer, shared some pictures from the event!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit - Sad Day for Europe!

"The world is changing" said the elf queen in Lord of the Rings. Yes it is and if governments and especially the European Commission don't stop being dictatorial power bullies, the EU will fall apart.

We live in a world where banks have been bailed out and the rich compensated for losses. At the same time the middle classes and the lowest paid are made to hurt by higher taxes to foot the bill. This is enforced by the European Commission. At the same time EU Commissionaires haven't taken a pay cut - nor even accepted to pay taxes. The rule of the European Commission and governments needs to be tuned down and be taken towards greater democracy. Democracy in the sense it was always intended. Letting people be part of the decision trail - not just electing loud mouth representatives. 

In this day and age it is pathetic how governments and the Commission cling to power. Refusing to become democratic and pass power to the individual citizen. 

The technology to support more democracy and run fair inexpensive transnational, national, regional and local votes and poles has been there for more than two decades. Today - in the time of the smart phones a vote can even be activated every minute and closed within an hour. We need to empower our citizens and unpower our institutions.

We need to thrive in our differences, become more local yet embrace our neighbors. Across borders we need interoperability not top down rule by legislation coming from Brussels. The only reason this is not implemented is the stale old rule of outdated institutions at all levels of governance. Governments have not evolved and continue to believe that they should lead their countries by totalitarian power as it was given them through a single election... This is outdated! 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Artificial Intelligence Hype and Fears

Media discussions on Artificial Intelligence are mostly on two aspects - Fear or Hype. Yesterdays article in Life Science What is Artificial Intelligence? is well worth the read!

The AI hype as put forth by most of its advocates is way off! The reason probably to attract venture capital or create waves in the media such as Google and IBM proudly claiming"look how great our innovations are - our AI beat that and that human expert".  In a recent blog Prof. Roger Schank correctly stated about IBM Watson "They are not doing "cognitive computing" no matter how many times they say they are". In fact linking intelligence and knowledge to machine learning (ML) is a mistake. However, the statistical analysis ML provides to support human intelligence is in fact extremely useful when correctly positioned.

The other extreme - fear - AI taking our jobs or even eliminating us since AI makes computers smarter than us - hm...yes but it's not so hard to be smarter than us. How many jobs have already been taken by industrial robots for the past 40 years? How many jobs that we consider as intellectual has software already replaced? The list is very long! This is our evolution - the hammer was more powerful and precise than the hand - the wheel helped us transport - the computer replaced all secretaries and printers that had been working more or less the same way for hundreds of years and renamed them in different functions.

So what's the difference? Why are we as human beings worried when a statistical pattern matching algorithm puts forward answers that are better than ours. Is our long term memory weak when combined with a problem solving task? Yes, cognitively this is a weak point! Very few people excel to greatness combining long term memory knowledge and task resolution - they are people we admire! Just a sec - should we? Perhaps it is alright to allow a computer take over this part!

As human beings we excel at complex high speed decisions - grabbing a child about to run into the street in front of a car - danger is our element - I remember as a teenager steering a car off the road and up a steep hill. I realized the brakes didn't work - in front was a stopped lorry because of a single lane bridge and a facing car coming across. Police said "are you drunk" since my knees were so weak I couldn't stand. After examining the car they said "she saved your lives". AI would have been too slow and unintelligent to sum up all the factors and decide to leave the road it was programmed to stay on!

This is key - in AI everything we are talking about is programming - ML is just an algorithm. The hype is that we don't know what it does - sure we do! However, much of the fusion between ML and human knowledge is still to be explored beyond simple training interaction and knowledge systems such as ontology. These provide a bottleneck since ontology creation is costly and many try to apply ML to the task of creating knowledge resources. However, I would stay clear of using such resources for anything but gisting due to the error rate. This would endanger lives in self driving cars and other applications.

Yes, our world is changing and guess what it always has? Fears hold evolution back and delay the inevitable progress we face! What must change is the outdated economical system that underpins unequal wealth distribution and economic corruption - this is not the task of engineers but economists and governments - but perhaps we replace them first since they are obviously making very bad decisions :)

Our innovative and creative mind could be assisted by computers or will they be like other humans - the pessimistic Ior in Winnie the Pooh: nah this wont work - doomed to fail - etc.. - sure if we program them to do just that!