The first idea of a language designed to improve human collective intelligence in a digital world is expressed in Pierre Levy’s book Collective Intelligence (first published in french in 1994).

The Canada Research Chair in Collective Intelligence

From 2002 to 2016, the development of IEML (the Information Economy MetaLanguage) has been funded by the Canada Research Chairs Program and the SSHRC (the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada). Over the years, several people have participated in the project. The first implementation of IEML benefited from the expertise of Pierre Lévy’s colleagues, Prof. Abeb El Saddik and Prof. Emil Petriu from the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Ottawa. Later, Michel Biezunski and Steve Newcomb, both PhD’s and inventors of TopicMaps, joined the team to program the first version of IEML’s parser and dictionary, introducing Pierre Lévy to the complexities of parsing, automatic hyperlinking and data format standards. Shortly after the release of the first stable version of IEML’s parser and dictionary in 2009, Pierre Lévy published The Semantic Sphere I, Computation, cognition, and information economy (2011) that defines the scientific and philosophical considerations leading to the invention of the metalanguage. In 2010, Andrew Roczniak, PhD, brought his knowledge of algebra, automata theory, regular languages, graph theory to refine IEML. While he implemented a second version of IEML’s parser and dictionary, he supported Pierre Lévy in writing IEML Grammar, published in 2015 (In French: La Sphère sémantique II. La Grammaire d’IEML, 2015. PDF online. In English, The Semantic Sphere II. IEML Grammar, 2015. PDF Online.). This first formal description of IEML includes a proof of computability of the semantic relationships internal to the metalanguage.

The Prototype

In early 2016, the IEML prototype team was confronted with questions of usability and development processes. Candide Kemmler introduced teamwork methods, APIs, servers and deployments. In the past two years, the prototype has been developed under the leadership of Louis van Beurden, Eng. He had a major impact on the design and programming of the back end.

Louis van Beurden is the lead architect for the IT implementation of the language in 2021.

The prototype has also benefited from the know-how and imput from Hadrien Titeux, Eng. and Zacharia Soliman, Eng. The front end has been under the direction of Eric Waldman, Eng. who used his own framework, implemented around the Model View Controller architectural pattern. The current IEML prototype includes a third version of the parser and dictionary, an engine which computes semantic relationships and an application – Intlekt – allowing in particular the collaborative creation of lexicons and specialized terminologies. Several interns have also contributed to the development of the prototype: Alice Ribaucourt, Ludovic Carré and Vincent Lefoulon, students from the renown engineering school ENSIMAG in France.

Special Thanks

Pierre Lévy thanks the Canada Research Chairs Program and the SSHRC for giving him the opportunity to develop his vision over a decade and a half.

Since 2019, IEML’s development has benefited from the volunteer contributions of Vincent Letard, Ph.D. in AI (specialist in automatic reasoning and ML practitioner) and David Alfonso (computational linguist, ontologist, ML practitioner).

Lastly, a very special thanks goes to Pierre Lévy’s partner, Darcia Labrosse, who has acted over the years as artistic director, designer, project manager and as editor for his books both in French and English. Without her support, ideas and contribution, IEML might never have seen the light of day.

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