20 Years Ago: Primus Knowledge Solutions

March 20, 2023

Note: Written by a real-live dinobaby. No smart software involved.

I am not criticizing Primus Knowledge Solutions (acquired by ATG in 2004 and then Oracle purchased ATG in 2011). I would ask that you read this text and consider what was marketed in 2003. The source is a description of Primus’ Answer Engine which was once located at dub dub dub primus.com/products/answerEngine:

Primus Answer Engine helps companies take full advantage of the valuable content that already exists in corporate documents and databases. Using proprietary natural language processing, Answer Engine delivers quick, relevant answers to plain English questions by bringing widespread corporate knowledge to support, agents, as well as to customers, partners, and employees via the web.

What “features” did the system provide two decades ago? The fact sheet I picked up at a search conference in 2003 told me:

  • Natural language processing
  • Scalability
  • Database integration
  • All major document types
  • Insightful reporting
  • Customizable interface
  • Centralized administration.

The system can suggest questions and interprets these or other questions and returns a list of answers found in a company’s online documents. This allows users to view the answer in context if desired.

I mention Primus because it is one example from dozens in my files about NLP technology.

Several observations/questions:

  • Where is Oracle in the ChatGPT derby? May I suggest this link for starters.
  • Isn’t the principal difference between Primus and other NLP “smart software” users are chasing ChatGPT type systems, not innovators outputting marketing words?
  • Are issues like updating training models and their content, biases in the models themselves, and the challenge of accurate, current data enjoying the 2003 naïveté?

Net net: ChatGPT is just one manifestation of innovators’ attempts to deal with the challenge of finding accurate, on-point, and timely information in the digital world. (This is a world I call the datasphere.)

Stephen E Arnold, March 20, 2023


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