A Common Sense Product

By Neil Orman

Academics have debated the future of few companies as vigorously, or emotionally, as that of Austin-based Cycorp Inc. The company is developing futuristic software built upon a database of hundreds of thousands of common sense facts about the world.

Common sense is one of the key superiorities the human brain has over the computer. The ability to detect subtle flaws in everyday logic, something people do everyday without even thinking, is an impossible feat for contemporary computers. Cycorp aims to change all that with its system, dubbed “Cyc” for encyclopedia. Doug Lenat, a former Stanford professor who serves as Cycorp’s president, is not shy about promoting his controversial system.

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