Context, Graphs and the Future of Computing

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s latest book, Age of Context, is a survey of the contributions across the globe to the forces influencing technology and our lives today.  The five forces are mobile, social media, data, sensors and location.  Scoble calls these the five forces of context and harnessed, they are the future of computing.

Pete Mortensen also addressed context in his brilliant May 2013 article in Fast Company “The Future of Technology Isn’t Mobile, It’s Contextual.”   So why is context so important (and difficult)?  First, context is fundamental to our ability to understand the text we’re reading and the world we live in.  In semantics, there is the meaning of the words in the sentence, the context of the page, chapter, book and prior works or conversations, but also the context the reader’s education and experience add to the understanding.  As a computing problem, this is the domain of text analytics.

Second, if you broaden the discussion as Mortensen does to personal intelligent agents (Siri, Google Now), the bigger challenge is complexity.  Inability to understand context has always made it difficult for computers and people to work together.  People and the language we use to describe our world is complex, not mathematical, You can’t be reduced to a formula or rule set, no matter how much data is crunched. Mortensen argues (and we agree) that the five forces are finally giving computers the foundational information needed to understand “your context” and that context is expressed in four data graphs.  These data graphs are

  • Social (friends, family and colleagues),
  • Interest (likes & purchases),
  • Behavior (what you do & where) and
  • Personal (beliefs & values).

While Google Glass might be the poster child of a contextual UX, ai-one has the technology to power these experiences by extracting Mortensen’s graphs from the volumes of complex data generated by each of us through our use of digital devices and interaction with increasing numbers of sensors known as the Internet of Things (IoT).  The Nathan API is already being used to process and store unstructured text and deliver a representation of that knowledge in the form of a graph.  This approach is being used today in our BrainDocs product for eDiscovery and compliance.

Age of Context by Scoble and IsraelIn Age of Context, ai-one is pleased to be recognized as a new technology addressing the demands of these new types of data.  The data and the applications that use them are no longer stored in silos where only domain experts can access them.  With Nathan the data space learns from the content, delivering a more relevant contextual response to applications in real time with user interfaces that are multi-sensory, human and intuitive.

We provide developers this new capability in a RESTful API. In addition to extracting graphs from user data, they can build biologically inspired intelligent agents they can train and embed in intelligent architectures.   Our new Nathan is enriched with NLP in a new Python middleware that allows us to reach more OEM developers.  Running in the cloud and integrated with big data sources and ecosystems of existing APIs and applications, developers can quickly create and test new applications or add intelligence to old ones.

For end users, the Analyst Toolbox (BrainBrowser and BrainDocs) demonstrates the value proposition of our new form of artificial intelligence and shows developers how Nathan can be used with other technologies to solve language problems.  While we will continue to roll out new features to this SaaS offering for researchers, marketers, government and compliance professionals, the APIs driving the applications will be available to developers.

Mortensen closes, “Within a decade, contextual computing will be the dominant paradigm in technology.”  But how?  That’s where ai-one delivers.  In coming posts we will discuss some of the intelligent architectures built with the Nathan API.

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