Web 3.0: Artificial What?

On the heals of our last posting about Web 2.0, the San Jose Mercury News published a New York Times article by John Markoff Sunday entitled “Web of the future would think for you.”

Basically the article talks about the move to “add a layer of meaning on top of the existing Web that would make it less of a catalog and more of a guide – and even provide the foundation for systems that can reason in a human fashion. That level of artificial intelligence, with machines doing the thinking instead of simply following commands, has eluded researchers for more than half a century.”

Artificial intelligence on the World Wide Web? Methinks this is still the stuff of science fiction, no matter how cool the Internet’s become.

"Open the pod bay doors, HAL."
"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Regardless, technology folk and companies like IBM and Google are calling this evolution Web 3.0 and are working on more practical uses like producing vacation recommendations or predicting the next hit song.

So, if Web 2.0 refers to a supposed second generation of Internet-based services—such as social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies—that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users, what will Web 3.0 bring?

According to Markoff “in the future, more powerful systems could act as personal advisers in areas as diverse as financial planning, with an intelligent system mapping out a retirement plan for a couple, for instance, or educational consulting, with the Web helping a high school student identify the right college.”

I’m not so sure about that. And what about the Web helping a company identifying the right candidate for any said position? I mean, we already have a endless list of online recruitment sourcing services, social networking sites, assessments tools and the like, that all claim to find the right candidate for the right job quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. These services help to reduce the inordinate amount of applicants received, yes, but they don’t make the final “intelligent” hiring decisions employers need to make.

People do that.

Which reminded me of something. I took a ride in the Wayback Machine to one of my previous incarnations from six years ago where we touted finding interested, qualified applicants using proprietary sourcing technology and artificial intelligence (IQA’s with AI).

And while that old “AI” partner is still around, Burning Glass Technologies, and doing well in the recruitment space, our business model failed.

Were we ahead of our time? Somewhat, yes. But my point is that while the Internet will continue to be a powerful repository of highly sortable information, the place to be to get in front of HR buyers, and the primarily delivery mechanism for many HR suppliers and their products and services – business models embracing artificially intelligent decision-making in the “human resource” marketplace will not be viable in the long term.

"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

I know, Dave. I know.