ACAT FAST Subject Headings

Posting to Autocat

On 12/22/2014 8:43 PM, Smith, Jay (LIB) wrote:

Here is another system designed to make cataloging happen without human intervention or expertise. In OCLC a robot can create the headings! However this is only possible because cataloging specialists (presumably with some subject expertise) have*already* assigned structured subjects from a controlled vocabulary.
It is a lot like expecting publishers/vendors to provide consistent, complete, and accurate bibliographic data that can be thrown into the catalog without specialist intervention. In my view this is not happening, and not likely to happen.

This thought is continued in a recent talk on Edge by Jaron Lanier (one of the developers of Artificial Intelligence), when he discussed the reality of automatic translation. (See: http://edge.org/conversation/the-myth-of-ai#video at 16.30 into the talk, but the entire talk is illuminating)

In essence, what he is saying is that in order for automatic translation to work, there needs to be “big data.” And this “big data” consists of reams of examples from real translations. And who supplies these real translations? Real translators, and they are being paid nothing. If these real translators do not provide these real translations for the algorithms to work with, then everything falls apart. In his opinion, it isn’t that there really is anything called “Artificial Intelligence” in automatic translation, it isn’t that the computers are so “intelligent.” It is that real people are doing the work, while the computers leverage it.

As he says, “The problem here should be clear, but just let me state it explicitly: we’re not paying the people who are providing the examples to the corpora [of the texts created by human translators] … that we need in order to make AI algorithms work. In order to create this illusion of a freestanding autonomous artificial intelligent creature, we have to ignore the contributions from all the people whose data we’re grabbing in order to make it work. That has a negative economic consequence.”

The same can be said for catalogers (as you mention). In Lanier’s opinion, this is the reality of “Artificial Intelligence” and it is incorrect to think of it as some sort of super-computer who can do it all on its own.

Some fascinating ideas, and I suggest the entire talk for everyone.

-564

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