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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Follow-up on Pile

[Audio Version]

My head is spinning. I've done just about as much due diligence as is reasonably possible with respect to the Pile computing system as I can. I thought I should write a brief follow-up entry in light of that.

After all the bombastic claims about how modern computers, relational databases, and AI suck, CEO of Pile Systems, Inc., Peter Krieg, goes on to explain in fancy but annoyingly vague terms what Pile is and how it is the perfect solution. In fact, as far as I can tell, all Pile is is a data structure that represents everything as linked points in a non-hierarchic graph space. One might as well call it a big flow chart with only one kind of block that can't contain any discrete information. If that's true, then I can hardly see how the trivial concept that mathematicians call a "graph" is novel, let alone patentable.

To be sure, I haven't seen any of the source code or any applications written with Pile. One has to get in touch with Pile Systems for a demo. And I couldn't, with a few quick Google searches, find anyone who admits to using the thing. I'm sure they're out there, but I didn't find them.

Actually, I really didn't find anything significantly related to Pile through Google searches besides what is on Pile's web site or otherwise repackaged in rave reviews of Pile by converts to Pile who probably haven't used it. Of course, nobody cares about my AI research, either, so I'll give them the benefit of being unknown because people haven't caught the Pile bug, yet.

I have to caution people that I'm not an expert in Pile. There may well be some value there. The literature does nothing more than knock everything that has come before Pile and make bold claims about how Pile is like the human brain and can be used to solve any problem. I'm left to conclude from what little their public literature reveals that Pile is really just a data structure, and that to make use of it, one has to write all the software to assign meaning to and process the data in it. At best, then, Pile is a tool that can be used to solve any computing problem -- just like a computer memory or relational database can.

I suppose I'm not being entirely fair. I wish I could give more attention to Pile to better cement my initial thoughts on it, but after reading several documents that amount to puffy product literature on the subject, I can't take any more. Maybe I'll find useful literature or Pile will have publicly downloadable demonstrations some day. For now, the subject is pretty nauseating.

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