Saturday, May 29, 2010

October Rules Fest - Looking Back and Forth


In some recent emails I have been asked why I don't want to "give back to the community" the things from ORF 2008 and ORF 2009 that have not (yet) been made public. Some of contents from some of those emails made it to public light. I feel that what I said in personal emails should have been just that; personal. But! Now that the dirty laundry is out in the open, as it were, I will make the following comments and then fade away into the wispy mist of the yesteryears of happy memories.

It was my pleasure to have devoted a great deal of time to ORF 2008 and ORF 2009 to try and see if the Geeks and Nerds of this world could make a conference happen that was focused on technology of rulebased systems, not the commercial side so much as on the theory and science of the AI aspect of the industry. In the process I lost $15,000+ (at a time when I had very little personal income) and I know that Rolando Hernandez lost a few thousand in 2008.

ORF ( ) could not have happened without four things converging together as though they were concentric circles of foretold happenstance;

(1) Attendance from the technophiles of the world who longed for a place in the sun. Would that we had had more who could have attended but we didn't. Nor did we have a PR machine to tell anyone about them - just a ground swell of pent-up demand from geeks longing to tell their own story and listen to the stories of others from around the world. Some even paid their own way just to be part of what one attendee called "The Woodstock of Rulebase."

(2) Financial Sponsorship from a few big vendors; in particular Fair Isaac (now FICO, for whom I have been working again since January of this year) but also Third Pillar, No Magic, Visual Rules, BizRules and Production Systems Technologies. Even with their help, we still lost money. But they made the financial part happen.

(3) Extraordinary Unpaid Help - ORF 2008: Greg Barton, Rolando Hernandez, Pete Charpentier and a few others. ORF 2009: Greg Barton and Chelanie Israel. (True, Chelanie was a paid employee but she gave us a ridiculous rate for her services.) And Greg Barton was my strong right arm both years even though he didn't have as much spare time the second year. Finally, Mark Proctor who evangelized ORF and brought about half of Europe with him both years.

(4) Finally, The Speakers: Who paid their own way, paid for their own rooms and took the time to prepare for the conference. There are WAY too many to list but the headliners were, of course, Dr. Charles Forgy (Inventor of Rete, Rete 2, ReteNG) Gary Riley,(Inventor of CLIPS) John Zachman, (GodFather of EDM) Thomas Cooper (Early research on OPS5 at CMU), Carlos Seranno-Morales (Inventor of Advisor), Carole Ann Berlioz-Matignon, (EDM Evangelist and co-developer with Carlos), Dr. Richard Hicks (Texas A&M), Paul Vincent, (TIBCO) Daniel Selman (ILOG) and many, many others including several local university professors; Dr. Leon Kappelman (UNT), Dr. Daniel Levine (UTA) and Dr. Gopal Gupta (UTD). ORF is truly indebted to them, one and all.

These were the four pillars that held up the tableau that was ORF. Actually, to have made money from such a wonderful adventure would have seemed both crass in nature and purile in practice. So, having inadvertently lost money, I can truly say that I did it for the love of the art and science of AI and I wouldn't have anyone take that feeling away from me. Unfortunately, I feel that AI today is drifting into pure commercialism without the three things that will make it a wonderful thing: (1) The mainstay of R&D by the major companies and government, (2) one's own personal love of adventure and (3) the practitioner's search for perfection of artistry.

To the organizers of Rules Fest 2010 in San Jose this year: Keep the faith and fight the good fight. I really hope to see you there. For those who don't know about Rules Fest 2010, see for more information and to sign up.

CoFounder ORF-2008/ORF-2009


woolfel said...

Even though I never attended ORF, I want to say thanks for putting your time and money to foster technical discussion. Like you, I work with rules out of love and also spent my own money to write a clean room implementation of RETE. Your efforts are appreciated and valued.


jcmorris said...

James and I traded some barbs in public that shouldn't have happened, and for that I've apologized to him.

The best thing that I can do to show my sincerity is to carry on the spirit of what he started with ORF and to keep the light on for all the "geeks" who love working with AI and rules as much as we do.

James, I can honestly say that I didn't know what it entailed until I walked a mile in your boots.

Jason Morris
Chairman, Rules Fest 2010