THESEUS is a research program initiated by the Federal Ministry of Economy and Technology (BMWi), with the goal of developing a new Internet-based infrastructure in order to better use and utilize the knowledge available on the Internet.
To this end, application-oriented basic technologies and technical standards are to be developed and tested under the umbrella of THESEUS. The expected results are novel products, tools, services, and business models for the World Wide Web, as well as for the service and knowledge society of tomorrow.
The focus of the research program is on semantic technologies, which determine contents (words, images, and sounds) not through conventional methods (e.g., combinations of letters) but which are able to recognize and place the meaning of a content in its proper context. Using these technologies, computer programs can intelligently comprehend the context in which data were stored. In addition, by applying rules and order principles, computers can draw logical inferences from the contents and autonomously recognize and produce connections between various pieces of information from different sources.
Using the standards and basic technologies (“semantic toolbox”) developed by THESEUS on the Internet, the users will also be able to produce and edit contents, rules, and structures themselves, as well as edit, collect, and link multimedia contents intelligently. Connecting today’s Web 2.0 with its open, interactive, and social network philosophy with semantic methods will turn the Web into the Internet of the next generation (Web 3.0 = Web 2.0 + semantics).
The semantic technologies are fundamentally transforming the existing Internet. In the ever more confusing flood of data, structured knowledge resources can be efficiently established and, for the first time, complex knowledge can be reproduced as well.
The Internet of the next generation (Web 3.0) will provide easy access to the structured global knowledge and to novel services, and crucially improve the quality of information of the relevant contents that are needed at a given moment.
In this new semantic infrastructure, companies will also be able to communicate more efficiently with other companies and, more to the point, with their customers as well as consumers in the future. In the process, innovative digital goods and services will be developed whose safe utilization are guaranteed through novel rights-management tools. For example, in the future it will be possible to organize new business and production processes on the basis of Internet-based and interoperable software modules in small and medium-size companies. THESEUS is therefore contributing to the creation of a knowledge- and IT-based service economy (Internet of services).
THESEUS is part of the “Information Society Germany 2010 (id2010)” program of the federal government. It was first presented at the German Chancellor’s IT summit in December 2006. For the government, new forms of gaining, searching for, and processing knowledge in the global competition has strategic significance. The research program is to improve the ability of Germany and Europe to compete and to contribute toward obtaining a leading position in the world, with respect to information and communication technologies. Tapping future growth markets secures, and even will create, sustainable jobs in Germany and Europe.
At the same time, THESEUS is to contribute toward preserving cultural heritage and maintaining cultural diversity. With the help of THESEUS, cultural institutions in Germany and Europe will be able to prepare their cultural goods and artworks in an innovative and structured way, so as to make them electronically accessible to a wide audience.
THESEUS will be implemented in two phases: In Phase 1, the first solutions and demonstrators are to be developed by 2008. Subsequently, these are to be further evolved through additional partners, which will be largely gained from medium-sized businesses by way of an invitation to bid (Phase 2).
At the current time, 30 research institutions, universities, and companies have joined the THESEUS program with planned projects. The industrial and public research partners are cooperating closely. They are coordinated by empolis GmbH. Also involved are internationally recognized experts of the Fraunhofer Society, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the Research Center for Computer Science (FZI), the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) and Technical University (TU) in Munich, the TU Darmstadt, the University of Karlsruhe, the TU Dresden, and the University of Erlangen. The application scenarios are developed from the immediate research results and utilization interests of the leading partners German National Library, empolis, Lycos Europe, SAP, Siemens, as well as the following additional partners involved: Deutsche Thomson oHG, Festo, Intelligent Views, m2any, Moresophy, Ontoprise, Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e.V. (VDMA), and the Institute of Radio Technology