I used to design and code an artificial intelligence program called The Scholar’s Companion as a means to achieved an apparent IQ far greater than mine or the computer’s alone. Then, Douglas Engelbart convinced me that it’s not about “me,” it’s about “we;” at that point in time, the program went open source and the entire fabric of my activity began to orbit around Engelbart’s co-evolution of “human and tool systems” paradigm, which I have been calling “knowledge gardening” since 2007.
Earlier, I began my journey into artificial intelligence when farmers, who were using microprocessor-based weather stations I originally built for wind energy monitoring, asked how else the data could be used; they were interested in fruit frost, irrigation, pest control and other aspects of the local climate. I began crafting AI programs for data analysis and prediction. I also I worked at SRI International on the DARPA project CALO, a “semantic desktop” application for organizing information flows in office settings.
At about the same time as the SRI project came to an end I defended a thesis proposal related to taming online conversations about climate change. This question was asked at an event in Palo Alto in 2010: “how can we have civil conversations online about politics?”. (More recently, I gave a TEDx talk titled Taming Conversations). On that day, TopicQuests, now a non-profit foundation, was founded. The thesis proposal resulted in a software platform that, originally meant to defend the dissertation, became the bases for our OpenSherlock project. Similar to an “open source Watson”, OpenSherlock performs many functions, including reading text and assisting humans in knowledge discovery.
The TopicQuests Foundation exists to support global knowledge gardening which takes many forms, including the conduct of Epic Quests that are more like crowd-sourced curation of vast amounts of information resources to assemble game moves that satisfy the quest’s primary question.
I’m interested in the application of Epic Quests in the client systems and projects of Community Intelligence. Quests engage large numbers of stakeholders and learners who join Guilds. Those quests are to be federated with quests which deal with similarly complex. The federation of the topics entailed in each quests opens the door to synergies among guilds and individuals performing these quests; federation of individual topics found in different conversations is similar to wormholes forming among different universes of discourse. Artificial intelligence is there to assist in that research. It is precisely the federation of topics among many communities, each participating in guilds for epic quests which augments collective intelligence through knowledge sharing and discovery.
From an organizational change making perspective, knowledge gardening is a naturally distributed activity; guild leadership is a continuously evolving exploration of governance and high performance collaboration, and a knowledge federation platform provides for a broadly shared ecosystem memory.