Tom Gruber is an innovator in technologies that augment human intelligence, individually and collectively. Applying ideas from Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, and Design, his work has explored how connecting people and machines can foster collaboration, learning, knowledge sharing, and getting things done.
His current project is Siri, where he is a co-founder, CTO, and VP Design. Siri is a virtual personal assistant for the mobile Internet, an intelligent interface that helps you get things done by tapping into the rich ecosystem of on-line services on the web. Siri acts as a personal assistant that can help arrange a place to eat or stay, find things to do, or help you get around town. You interact with Siri by telling it what you want, in speech or text or clicking, and Siri does the work of collecting information from multiple sites, helping you explore options, and acting on your behalf to make reservations or get tickets. Siri is an example of what Tom calls Intelligence at the Interface, using context-aware AI to intermediate the structured data and service ecosystem on the web. Siri went live in early 2010 and was quickly bought by Apple. Tom is now helping to realize the dream of Intelligence at the Interface on an unprecedented scale.
During the rise of Web 2.0, Tom co-founded and built RealTravel, which is one of the best places on the web to share knowledge and experiences about travel. RealTravel.com provides an environment for a community of travel enthusiasts to create beautiful travel journals of their adventures, share them with friends and family, and find other like-minded travelers. People looking for information about where to go, where to stay, or what to do in their travels can learn from the authentic experiences of those who have been there. RealTravel is an example of what Tom calls Collective Knowledge Systems, powered by intelligent information processing of the collective experience of a large community. Over a million people use RealTravel to help plan their travel every month.
Previously he co-founded was CTO of Intraspect Software, which creates environments for professional people working together on line. Intraspect applications help people collaborate in large distributed communities, learn from each other, and continuously contribute to a collective body of knowledge. Intraspect is used by hundreds of corporate customers and many thousands of users in Financial Services, Marketing Services, Professional Services, High Technology, and other globally distributed enterprises. Intraspect is an example of what Tom called Collaborative Knowledge Systems, which combined web-scale mass collaboration technology with Google-like information retrieval to build dynamic, self-sustained bodies of collective knowledge.He is also a founder and Chief Scientist of Consider Solutions, a consultancy that helps Global 2000 companies to design and implement coordinated systems of technology, processes, and human organizations to maximize organizational effectiveness.
At Stanford University at the dawn of the Web, Gruber was a pioneer in the use of the Web for knowledge sharing and collaboration. He evagelized the idea of ontologies as a technology for enabling knowledge sharing and is credited with giving the term ontology a technical definition for computer science. He established the DARPA Knowledge Sharing Library, a web-based public exchange for ontologies, software, and knowledge bases and was part of the group that established the technical foundations for what is now the Semantic Web.
Gruber also led the Stanford team that invented and deployed the first Virtual Document applications on the web that generate natural language explanations in response to questions. This continued a line of research in intelligent interfaces that ranged from knowledge-based communication prosthesis to automated knowledge acquisition from human experts.
With colleagues at Stanford, Xerox PARC, and SRI, he designed systems that provide shared virtual spaces for collaborative work, agent-based collaborative engineering, and collaborative learning. To support the collaborations of the WWW research community, Gruber created HyperMail. HyperMail turns ordinary electronic mail into a web-based organizational memory. HyperMail was used as the archive and public forum for some of the key discussions that defined the emerging ideas of the early Web. After Kevin Huges had the insight to get Hypermail in to open source distribution, the product evolved into many popular forms and spread into very common use, documenting and distributing tens of millions of conversations on the web.
Tom is an advisor to interesting companies in financial services (Wall Street), enterprise collaboration (SocialText, Consider), social networking (LinkedIn), semantic web (Radar Networks), Natural Language Search (Powerset), mind mapping (Mindjet), life story sharing (OurStory), social compensation (OpenYear), social entrepreneurship (ChangingThePresent.org), and open content (the Internet Archive).