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Ontologist (EXPIRED)

Cycorp, Inc.

Job category Other (non-academic) / Tenured, continuing or permanent
AOS Great facility in converting English sentences representing assertions into equivalent formal sentences in a predicate calculus such as first order logic.
AOS categories Logic
Philosophy of Cognitive Science
AOC Open
Workload Full time
Vacancies 5
Location Austin, Texas, United States
Job description

For the last 35 years, our 50-person team has been building Cyc, the world’s only AI that deeply understands what it’s reasoning about (as opposed to what everyone else today calls “AI”: statistical machine learning and limited-logic knowledge-graph searching). Human-level Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) only needs to be created once. Now that we are nearing our goal, would you like to be part of our team that pushes across the finish line?   As an Ontological Engineer, you will find and fill gaps in Cyc’s knowledge about common sense, context, and how the world works. You must be exceptionally good at introspecting and articulating what you know and why you believe it. You must also be able to express those things formally as sentences in predicate calculus, the representation language that our AI understands.   You should enjoy the challenge of thinking about multiple reasoning paths by which an answer could have been reached and engaging in pro-con reasoning.

What it’s like to work as an OE Team Member

  • In addition to codifying domain-independent knowledge, many of our OE’s work on one or two particular Cyc applications and gain expertise in those particular areas of healthcare, energy, aerospace, manufacturing, etc.

  • Most of the work goes in teams, so OE’s need to be able to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with their colleagues.

  • For some applications, speed matters, and in those cases the OE’s will tinker and experiment with redundant representations and reasoning heuristics that enable Cyc to find the same answers but much more efficiently.  

  • Part of the OE’s responsibility is to create regression tests to notice when Cyc stops getting some things right (e.g., due to dissonant new things it’s been taught.)

  • There is no one right way to represent things: the job involves judgement and taste, not just objective analysis; OE’s are as much artists as they are engineers.


  • You must be fluent in translating in both directions between English sentences and logically equivalent sentences in predicate calculus.   No particular degree or training is required; some of our OE’s never graduated high school, but most of them have their Ph.D. in Philosophy with a specialization in symbolic logic.  

  • You must be self-motivated and have an interest in artificial intelligence. Cycorp emphasizes having great and creative employees over having a rigid structured environment.

  • As mentioned above, your job as an OE is, roughly, to teach Cyc how to think. So you must be able to hypothesize and articulate plausible reasoning paths. One of the most common ways of doing that is introspecting on how you are able to answer a question, so that makes accurate introspection a valuable asset for an OE to have.

Non-requirements that are plusses:

  • experience and training in artificial intelligence

  • experience and training in computer science and/or programming, especially in LISP

  • domain knowledge in healthcare, finance, energy, and/or manufacturing

  • experience and training in linguistics, natural language understanding, and/or natural language generation

  • client-facing experience (sales and/or technical support)

  • technical project management experience


Cycorp’s AI R&D is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and applications are understood to be for regular, full time employment on-site here. Cycorp is an equal opportunity employer. We conform to all the laws, statutes, and regulations concerning equal employment opportunities and affirmative action. We strongly encourage women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans to apply to all of our job openings. We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, age, disability status, Genetic Information & Testing, Family & Medical Leave, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. We prohibit retaliation against individuals who bring forth any complaint, orally or in writing, to the employer or the government, or against any individuals who assist or participate in the investigation of any complaint or otherwise oppose discrimination. Cycorp will hire only persons authorized to work in the United States and will verify identity and eligibility for employment, and complete Form I-9 for all new employees on the date of hire.

How to apply
Application type Email
Must include a cover letter along with your resume/CV.
Email to apply
Hard deadline No deadline specified (applications considered on an ongoing basis)
Contact name Angie Lopez
Contact email
Time created August 15, 2019, 1:05pm EST
Scheduled expiry date March 1, 2020, 2:54pm CST
Expired on March 1, 2020, 3:46pm CST
Last updated May 1, 2020, 3:00pm EST
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We don't have deadlines for receiving resumes. We are always looking for Ontologist to join our team.