About Project Halo
Aristotle, the ancient Greek teacher, scientist and philosopher, had an extraordinary command of all the scientific disciplines of his day, as well as an ability to teach that knowledge to his students in a way they could understand. Today, the sheer volume of knowledge existing in the world precludes a modern-day human Aristotle. But advanced knowledge systems and technologies may one day fill this role.
Project Halo is a staged, long-range research effort by Vulcan Inc. towards the development of a "Digital Aristotle"—a reasoning system capable of answering novel questions and solving advanced problems in a broad range of scientific disciplines and related human affairs. The project focuses on creating two primary functions: a tutor capable of instructing and assessing students in those subjects, and a research assistant with broad, interdisciplinary skills to help scientists and others in their work.
Project Halo Research and Development
Vulcan began work towards this ambitious vision in 2003 with the Halo Pilot — a six-month effort to investigate the feasibility of creating a scientific knowledge base capable of answering novel questions from the AP (1st year college level) chemistry test. Three teams — SRI International, Cycorp, and Ontoprise — developed knowledge bases, for a limited section of an AP-chemistry syllabus, that were able to correctly answer 40 to 50 percent of the associated questions from the AP test.
Since 2004, Project Halo has worked to improve these systems, with an emphasis on enabling knowledge entry by domain experts, instead of specialists in artificial intelligence software. In 2004, Vulcan began the development of Automated User-Centered Reasoning and Acquisition System (AURA), by SRI, that enables domain experts (graduate students in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics) to enter knowledge from introductory science textbooks. In 2006, an evaluation of AURA showed that students could create AURA knowledge bases that correctly answered 40 percent of the questions on a limited AP exam. In 2008, the next evaluation demonstrated an improvement of that score to 70 percent correct.
In parallel, Project Halo has sponsored Ontoprise to develop semantic extensions to MediaWiki, the software that Wikipedia runs on. Ontoprise has developed a set of Semantic MediaWiki (SMW)+ extensions to MediaWiki that provide a community-based environment for authoring ontologies and creating semantically enhanced wikis. SMW+ has been widely used and is being applied in project management, enterprise collaboration and knowledge management, business intelligence, and the management of large terminology sets.
In 2007, Vulcan began a new effort, Halo Advanced Research (HalAR), to address the difficult knowledge representation and reasoning (KR) challenges that prevent the realization of Digital Aristotle. This effort has produced a new semantic rule language and reasoning system, Semantic Inferencing on Large Knowledge (SILK), which includes major advances, including for default and higher-order reasoning over the web.
Vulcan Chairman Paul G. Allen recently founded a new nonprofit organization called the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), which supports long-range research activities with the potential to accelerate progress in artificial intelligence. In particular, AI2 is leading the funding of Wikidata, a major database project that builds on semantic wiki technology to improve the quality and consistency of the Wikipedia encyclopedia.
Send Us Your Ideas
The appendix to Paul Allen's new book, Idea Man, describes several challenges in artificial intelligence for which Project Halo is actively seeking solutions. We are actively seeking people and organizations with serious and well-grounded technical ideas that can result in significant progress against these challenges.
Please use the Idea Submission Form to contact us with a sketch of your idea, along with any supporting evidence that it will be successful. Please do not send confidential or proprietary information to Project Halo using this site or through any other means.