Semantic Encyclopedias and Boolean Dreams
Keywords:Semantic Web, knowledge representation, Cyc, Wikipedia, Wikidata, Schema.org, DBpedia, GOFAI, feminist epistemology
When metadata becomes knowledge, opportunities for multiplicity and risks of harm and exclusion arise. As GLAM institutions contribute to the Semantic Web, we must pay attention to the implications of participation. While the Semantic Web grew out of the flourishing of web technologies in the 1990s, recognizing its roots in classical/symbolic AI (referred to as Good Old Fashioned Artificial Intelligence, or GOFAI)—in particular, expert systems and knowledge representation—encourages critical questions like: which problems from knowledge representation and expert systems does the Semantic Web inherit? Are GOFAI failures really failures, or does the gap between rhetoric and practice point to generative possibilities (some of which can now be seen in Semantic Web initiatives)? What can we learn from AI critics, feminist approaches, and the unmasking of encyclopedic neutrality? This research article will explore how critiques of AI expert systems and Cyc, an ongoing project to create a common sense knowledge base, might apply to Semantic Web efforts like Wikipedia, Wikidata, DBpedia, and Schema.org.
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