The Semantic Web and Collective Intelligence

Thomas Malone

The original vision of the Semantic Web was to encode semantic content on the web in a form with which machines can reason.  But in the last few years, we've seen many new Internet-based applications (such as Wikipedia, Linux, and prediction markets) where the key reasoning is done, not by machines, but by large groups of people.  

This talk will show how a relatively small set of design patterns can help understand a wide variety of these examples.  Each design pattern is useful in different conditions, and the patterns can be combined in different ways to create different kinds of collective intelligence.  Building on this foundation, the talk will consider how the Semantic Web might contribute to--and benefit from--these more human-intensive forms of collective intelligence.

Thomas W. Malone from MIT's Sloan School of Management has been confirmed as the first keynote speaker for ISWC 2012. Tom heads the Center for Collective Intelligence at MIT, where he investigates how new organizations can be designed to take advantage of the possibilities provided by information technology. Tom's more recent research work studies the future or work and, in particular, the transformative capabilities of collective intelligence.

Tom Malone's Photo

Driving Innovation with Open Data and Interoperability

Jeanne Holm, a flagship open government project from the US government, opens and shares data to improve government efficiency and drive innovation.  Sharing such data allows us to make rich comparisons that could never be made before and helps us to better understand the data and support decision making.  The adoption of open linked data, vocabularies and ontologies, the work of the W3C, and semantic technologies is helping to drive and US data forward.  This session will help us to better understand the changing global landscape of data sharing and the role the semantic web is playing in it.

This session highlights specific data sharing examples of solving mission problems from NASA, the White House, and many other governments agencies and citizen innovators. 

As the Evangelist for Data.Gov (an open government flagship project for the White House managed by GSA), Jeanne Holm leads collaboration and builds communities with the public, educators, developers, and international and state governments in using open government data.  Jeanne is the Chief Knowledge Architect at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, driving innovation through social media, virtual worlds, gaming, ontologies, and collaborative systems, including the award-winning NASA public portal ( and pioneering knowledge architectures within DoD.  She is a Fellow of the United Nations International Academy of Astronautics and a Distinguished Instructor at UCLA, with more than 130 publications on information systems, knowledge management, and innovation. 

Jeanne Holm

Tackling Climate Change:  Unfinished Business from the Last “Winter”

Mark A. Musen
Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research, Stanford University

In the 1990s, as the World Wide Web became not only world wide but also dense and ubiquitous, workers in the artificial intelligence community were drawn to the possibility that the Web could provide the foundation for a new kind of AI.  Having survived the AI Winter of the 1980s, the opportunities that they saw in the largest, most interconnected computing platform imaginable were obviously compelling.  With the subsequent success of the Semantic Web, however, our community seems to have stopped talking about many of the issues that researchers believe led to the AI Winter in the first place: the cognitive challenges in debugging and maintaining complex systems, the drift in the meanings ascribed to symbols, the situated nature of knowledge, the fundamental difficulty of creating robust models.  These challenges are still with us; we cannot wish them away with appeals to the open-world assumption or to the law of large numbers.  Embracing these challenges will allow us to expand the scope of our science and our practice, and will help to bring us closer to the ultimate vision of the Semantic Web.

Mark Musen from Stanford's Center for Biomedical Informatics research has been confirmed as the second keynote speaker for ISWC 2012. Mark conducts research related to intelligent systems, the Semantic Web, reusable ontologies and knowledge representations, and biomedical decision support. His long-standing work on a system known as Protégé has led to an open-source technology now used by thousands of developers around the world to build intelligent computer systems and new computer applications for e-science and the Semantic Web. He is known for his research on the application of intelligent computer systems to assist health-care workers in guideline-directed therapy and in management of clinical trials. He is principal investigator of the National Center for Biomedical Ontology, one of the seven National Centers for Biomedical Computing supported by the Roadmap of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Mark Musen

The Trials and Tribulations of a Semantic Technology Evangelist

This talk will attempt to be a humorous reprise of attempts to realise the web of Open Linked Data.  What have been the great successes and failures and what does the future hold?  Will the empire strike back?  All will be revealed in the banquet after Dinner speech.

Nigel Shadbolt, Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Head of the Web and Internet Science Group at the University of Southampton has been confrimed as the dinner speaker. He is a Director of the Web Science Trust, and of the Web Foundation - both organisations have a common commitment to advance our understanding of the Web and promote the Web's positive impact on society.

In June 2009 together with Sir Tim Berners-Lee he was appointed an Information Advisor by the Prime Minister to help transform public access to Government information. A major output of this work has been the widely acclaimed site - a single point of access for all Government non-personal public data. In May 2010 he was appointed by the Coalition Government to the Public Sector Transparency Boardresponsible for setting open data standards across the public sector and developing the legal Right to Data. He also Chairs the Local Data Panel seeking to promote and develop open data approaches within Local Government.

More information about Nigel is available here.

Nigel Shadbolt Photo