Why this topic!! …
Knowledge Management was the sole reason I came for my Masters @ UIS. My stint as a research analyst in the Knowledge Methods and Support (KMS) team was a great motivator for my interest in this area.
What is Knowledge Acquisition ?
Knowledge acquisition is the first step in any knowledge related project, be it designing expert systems, Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Management or in Knowledge engineering. As I researched for information, I realized how vast and unwinding the area of Knowledge Acquisition and its areas of applications were.
“Knowledge Acquisition is about extracting knowledge from sources of expertise and transferring it to a Knowledge Base” (citation: author TURBAN E. Source: EXPERT SYSTEMS AND APPLIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, Pages pp 117-139)
Knowledge acquisition is a process of development and creation of insights, skills and relationships. This process is linked to how human mind organizes and presents information. A typical example would be the prediction of trends by a stock broker who can predict market’s future using intuition and acquired knowledge by looking at trends on his computer. This is the kind of knowledge on which IT processes for knowledge projects focus and develop further. Knowledge acquisition is the first step in knowledge engineering and knowledge management projects.
Knowledge engineering is a field in (AI) artificial intelligence that develop computer programs containing large amounts of knowledge, rules and reasoning mechanisms to interpret and provide solutions to real-world problems. The basic Knowledge based systems development comprises of three processes which include knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing and knowledge utilization. To make the technology aspect of the other two processes more clear, knowledge sharing and knowledge utilization make use of communication networks and collaborative tools respectively. The process of knowledge acquisition includes elicitation, collection, analysis, modeling, and validation of knowledge. Knowledge acquisition makes use of database capture tools and is concerned with the transfer of knowledge from existing sources, such as experts and books, rather than the learning of knowledge from experience.
Knowledge Acquisition process…
Knowledge acquisition is the first step in knowledge management and engineering hence is a crucial process. The process of acquisition includes five stages:
- Identification- Identifies the problem characteristics
- Conceptualization – Find Concepts to represent the knowledge
- Formalization – Design the structure to organize the knowledge
- Implementation – Formulates rules, frames etc. to represent the knowledge
- Testing – Validates the rules that organize the knowledge
Methods used in the process have seen changes over the last few decades. Early 70s techniques were based on human interviewing. The 80s was the generation of computer aided application of specific techniques such as repertory grids, behavior modeling, and text analysis. Current third-generation has highly integrated knowledge acquisition environments offering a wide range of complementary tools and techniques. Methods used to extract knowledge from experts, commonly used are the manual, automatic and the semi automatic methods. Manual methods include interviews and tracking the reason process, and observing. Semi automatic process requires only one of the either parties in the process, the knowledge engineer or the expert. Automatic process involves least involvement of an expert or an engineer. Over the years, new tools have reduced the time spent for knowledge acquisition.
- Lack of time and motivation for experts to contribute to the knowledge acquisition process
- Difficulty in communicating tacit knowledge to a knowledge engineer
- Knowledge is considered to be dynamic; This requires for constant review and changes to knowledge base.
KA techniques and their application patterns:
Owing to the diversity of knowledge experts may posses, different areas of knowledge require different techniques for knowledge acquisition.
KA: areas of usage….
Application areas of KA techniques are irrespective of industry and knowledge area. KA has a role in every project which involves knowledge based project. As organizations across industries of archeology, molecular and plant biology, medicine, manufacturing, agriculture, financial services are leaning towards knowledge based technologies for competitive advantage, KA tools and techniques are gaining popularity.
Latest in the Knowledge arena…
Knowledge Acquisition has evolved to become more structured and formulated over the years. Use of methodologies, ontologies and software tools apart from the knowledge engineering concept is making knowledge based applications more user friendly and practical. Another developing area is three dimension data acquisition, which is changing the face of Knowledge tools and applications. Imaging and data capture is contributing significantly to research and development in Artificial Intelligence, Expert systems, Neural network engineering, robotics and technology support tools for the physically challenged.
A few tools in the market…
There are a number of tools which aid in knowledge acquisition. A few of them include
PCPACK: A powerful business solution that supports the retention, sharing, management and re-use of knowledge vital to the organization.
Acquist: Tool designed to provide support for the knowledge acquisition stages. Hypertext based facility that allows the knowledge engineer to abstract and structuring the knowledge contained in ‘raw text’
CONKAT (CONnectionist Knowledge Acquisition Tool) enables automatic acquisition of knowledge out of a set of examples. Enhances the reasoning capabilities of classical expert systems with the ability of generalize and the handling of incomplete cases
Protégé/2000 : Advanced Tools for Building Intelligent Systems
KA tools have undergone continual development in response to market demands, technological advances and customer feedback. Knowledge acquisition process, considered as the “critical bottleneck”, is more than acquiring knowledge. The interview process and the development of the knowledge base are most time consuming. Over the years, systematic KA methods, frameworks, and interactive tools have been developed to resolve time issues. Although, KA area is an old area, there is still room for developments and improvement. There will be a time when experts can work directly with a computer and negate requirement of a knowledge engineer. The future holds promise for Knowledge acquisition tools which combine new integrated and generic features to aid in processes for the new knowledge era.