Ontolog Forum

Bill DeSmedt

Bill has spent his life living by his wits and his words. In his time, and as the spirit has moved him, he’s been: a Soviet Area expert and US/USSR exchange student, a computer programmer and system designer, a consultant to startups and the Fortune 500, an Artificial Intelligence researcher, a son, a husband and lover, a father and grandfather, an omnivorous reader with a soft spot for science fiction and science non-fiction, and now, Lord help us, a novelist — with two published technothrillers (Singularity and Dualism) under his belt, and a third (Triploidy) waiting in the wings.

In his copious spare time, Bill created MetaLang, a knowledge-based, language-independent, end-user authorable conversational agent technology suite. MetaLang agents employ natural language processing and knowledge representation capabilities to hold up their end of a conversation. Rather than parroting canned responses, or matching wild-carded patterns, a MetaLang agent relies on its “mindset” — the totality of the memories, beliefs, opinions, and knowledge comprising its simulated personality, based on Minskyesque frames populated from a homegrown, mid-sized (~12K concepts) ontology — to extemporize like a human improvisational actor across a broad spectrum of instructional, entertainment, and customer-service interactions. MetaLang agents are crafted via a dialogue-based knowledge-authoring utility enabling content creators to create new mindsets without writing a single line of code, simply by “coaching” the agents in plain English.

Bill’s non-fiction writing credits include “The Wolf at the Door,” an unconventional two-part attempt to marry the fields of cognitive psychology and software engineering for the journal DataBase Programming & Design, a chapter on artificial intelligence in foreign language learning for Melissa Holland’s Intelligent Language Tutors, a beginner’s guide to natural-language processing for the Proceedings of the 1997 Computer Game Developers Conference, multiple Huffington Post blogs on AI and machine reading, a blog on English grammar, usage, and writing style citing passages from the works of Dan Brown as cautionary examples, and a treatise on the art of storytelling as a tool of military command for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Bill is currently engaged as a Senior Ontologist at NTENT, Inc. ( — a next-generation semantic search firm based in Carlsbad CA.