Published in 2004 Office of Naval Research Workshop and Conference, September 8, 2004. 24 pages. RESU84-A.
With the objective of defining the interoperability theme of this year’s conference it is the purpose of this paper1 to trace the evolution of intelligent software from data-centric applications that essentially encapsulate their data environment to ontology-based applications with automated reasoning capabilities. The author draws a distinction between human intelligence and component capabilities within a more general definition of intelligence; - a kind of intelligence that can be embedded in computer software. The primary vehicle in the quest for intelligent software has been the gradual recognition of the central role played by data and information, rather than the logic and functionality of the application. The three milestones in this evolution have been: the separation of data management from the internal domain of the application; the development of standard data exchange protocols such as XML that allow machine interpretable structure and meaning to be added to data exchange packages; and, the ability to build information models that are rich in relationships and are thereby capable of supporting the automated reasoning capabilities of software agents.
The author suggests that the vision of a Semantic Web environment in which ontology-based Web services with intelligent capabilities are able to discover each other and individually or in self-configured groups perform useful tasks, is not only feasible but imminently realizable. The capabilities of an experimental proof-of-concept system featuring semantic Web services that was demonstrated during the 2002 meeting of this annual conference series is described in summary form.