Towards 2025, the main challenge of the European Union remains the implementation of Lisbon Strategy, aimed at building "the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion." Clearly, ICT represent one of the keys to achieve this goal; the digital convergence - the marriage of computing, communications, content, and consumer electronics - is an over-riding influence on Europe's ICT industry.
A crucial issue is, and will be even more in the future, the capability of transforming the avalanche of data produced by the digital convergence of the ICTs into a strategic lever for the social and economic growth. In fact, pervasiveness and ubiquity of the ICTs means more data. On one hand, content data: multimedia documents on the Web, in the intranet of the complex organizations and in the digital libraries; on the other hand, business and process data, related to every human activity, registered as a side effect of everyday ICT transaction: the data in the traditional databases or data warehouse of the enterprises and public administrations which register economical, financial and societal facts; the data from healthcare systems, bio-medicine, genetic data banks; the data from sensor networks, from wireless networks, from ubiquitous computing; the data from on-line communities, and from collectively produced knowledge resources, which register the human activities of such social networks.
All this may either remain an under-exploited blob or be transformed into consumable knowledge, by providing sound technologies able to: i) enrich such data with semantic information concerning their shared meaning, their geographic context, their usage context, etc; ii) access data efficiently and intelligently, in a personalized way, more centred on the user; iii) transform data into knowledge by means of inference mechanisms and data mining methods capable of simplification, abstraction and generalization.
By means of these knowledge discovery tools, a new generation of semantic search engines might find precise answers to simple yet powerful user queries; accurate and timely models of vehicular and personal movements might be mined from the mobility data gathered by the wireless networks that track mobile devices, and such models might be used to reason about sustainable mobility and intelligent transportation systems; patterns of social relations and communications might be understood by the analysis of human interaction in the social networks. In simple words, a steady flow of knowledge might be delivered to sustain the knowledge society and its development. Transforming data into knowledge is also a fundamental brick for building embedded and invisible systems which will need to "know" themselves, their environment and the context surrounding their use, and act accordingly.
Transforming data into knowledge also entails overcoming other obstacles, such as the multilingual barrier - being able to speak everybody's language - the privacy threats - being able to protect the personal data against identification and abuse - the ubiquity of processes and data - being able to create knowledge in an environment where peer-to-peer is the rule, not an exception.
The research activities carried on by the three Labs and one Center belonging the Knowledge Science and Technologies thematic area are situated in this scenario, and concern several relevant intertwined fields:
- intelligent information access and filtering: methods for enhanced access and delivery of digital contents, underlying the next generation of intelligent search engines;
- pervasive digital libraries and social networking: methods for the participatory construction of ubiquitous knowledge environments, towards Web 3.0;
- knowledge discovery and data mining: methods to learn new knowledge from data and make knowledge usable, and enable the construction of systems capable of adapting their behavior;
- multimodal ubiquitous and adaptive user interfaces: methods to enhance the experience of the ubiquitous user interacting with knowledge-rich services.