Universal Access to All Knowledge

Advances in computing and communications mean that we can cost-effectively store every book, sound recording, movie, software package, and public web page ever created, and provide access to these collections via the Internet to students and adults all over the world.

By mostly using existing institutions and funding sources, we can build this as well as compensate authors within the current worldwide library budget.

As these digital libraries take shape there are new opportunities for computer scientists. Can we make a distributed web of books that supports vending and lending? How can our machines learn by reading these materials? Can we reconfigure the information to make interactive question answering machines? Can we learn from the past human translations of documents to seed an automatic version? Similarly, can we learn how to do optical character recognition by having billions of correct examples? What compensation systems will serve creators and networked users? How do we preserve petabytes of changing data?

This talk will give an overview of the collections and challenges now facing those of us building digital libraries, and end with a list of projects that might now be possible because of these collections.

Who Should Attend

Anyone with an interest in this topic can benefit from this session and is welcome to participate.


Brewster Kahle studied artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Soon after graduating, he helped found Thinking Machines, a supercomputer maker. In 1989, Mr. Kahle created the Internet’s first publishing system, Wide Area Information Server (WAIS) and established WAIS, Inc., which revolutionized the electronic publishing market. In 1996, Mr. Kahle founded the Internet Archive, one of the largest digital libraries in the world. With 100 partnering libraries, the Internet Archive is working to create an online catalog of every book ever created. Also, in 1996 Mr. Kahle co-founded Alexa Internet, a service that collects data on web browsing behavior for future analysis. Together with his wife, Mary Austin, Mr. Kahle started The Kahle/Austin Foundation, which supports the Internet Archive along with other non-profit organizations with similar goals. Additionally, Mr. Kahle is the founder of Open Content Alliance, a group of organizations contrib uting to a permanent, publicly accessible archive of digitized texts.


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