Pure and Applied Research: The Good, the Bad, and the Lucky
By Peter Jackson
This talk explores some of the differences between pure and applied research by comparing two AI projects undertaken at Thomson Corporation. One, an editorial tool called History Assistant based on information extraction technology, was an academic success resulting in multiple publications but deemed a failure internally. The other, a recommender system called ResultsPlus that used multiple kinds of machine learning, was more or less unpublishable but created a $40M/year business. In addition to technology issues, the talk addresses the role of luck, people, and timing in the successful application of advanced technologies.
Peter Jackson holds a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Leeds and taught in the Department of Artificial Intelligence at Edinburgh University from 1983 to 1988. In 1995, he joined the Thomson Corporation, where he is now Chief Scientist and vice president of R&D. He runs a group of over 40 researchers who work with business units in the legal, financial, science and healthcare sectors to deliver custom information solutions. His latest book, "Natural Language Processing for Online Applications", came out in a 2nd edition in 2007.