Project Halo

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Project Halo is a project funded by Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures. The project was initially led by Oliver Roup and Noah Friedland but is currently led by Mark Greaves, a former DARPA Program Manager. Project Halo is an attempt to apply artificial intelligence techniques to the problem of producing a "digital Aristotle" that might serve as a mentor, providing comprehensive access to the world's knowledge.

The project was started in October 2002 with a pilot study in which three separate groups of researchers, from Cycorp, Ontoprise, and a consortium comprising of the University of Texas at Austin, SRI International and Boeing Phantom Works, built systems capable of answering Advanced Placement Test level questions in sub-areas of chemistry. The pilot study indicated that the three knowledge systems were capable of producing human-comparable results on the AP exam for the 70 pages of subject matter selected. However, the effort cost $10,000 per page and a detailed failure analysis indicated that the prime reason for system failure was the lack of chemistry understanding on the part of the knowledge engineers who formulated the text.

Phase II of Project Halo, which kicked off in January 2004, is an attempt to develop tools that will allow scientists and scientific educators without expertise in knowledge engineering to formulate, debug, extend, validate and query knowledge bases. The resulting software should be capable of answering a high percentage of novel questions and providing domain appropriate explanations of how those answers were derived.

Project Halo has funded a number of technologies related to the Semantic Web. Most relevantly to Semantic MediaWiki, it has funded the SMW+ suite of extensions, which includes the extension called Halo. However, it has also funded some improvements to core Semantic MediaWiki.

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