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Jean-Philippe de Lespinay

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Jean-Philippe de Lespinay (born June 19, 1946) is a French entrepreneur and inventor. He is known for his invention "La Maieutique"[1], part of the Artificial Intelligence, made in 1986[2][3][4] and for his reasoning expert systems.




Jean-Philippe de Lespinay was born in Paris. After his baccalauréat, he graduated in 1971 from the Business School of Marseilles, now Euromed[5]. In 1973 he qualified as a sales engineer in computer science at Honeywell Bull company. In 1986 he founded A.R.C.A.N.E.[6], a private R & D company in Artificial Intelligence he ran until 1996. In 1999, he founded TREE LOGIC[7] with venture capital, a start-up he runs up to 2002, created to market an intelligent computer interface coming from his research: TIARA[8]. He implemented the principles of Artificial Intelligence (AI) expressed 15 years earlier, with Mycin for example, solving a major problem in AI: knowledge engineering.[9][10] He invented an easy solution for knowledge extraction: LA MAIEUTIQUE, he associates with a reasoning mechanism, preconditions for an intelligent and learning computer. In 1991, due to the results of his R&D work he was awarded a « Research Technician degree in Artificial Intelligence" from the French Ministry of Research.[11] Subsequently, he generalized the concept by making several new discoveries in Artificial Intelligence all based on automated reasoning.

Of his marriage in 1977,[12] he had four children. He divorced in 2007.

Professional and scientific background

He began his career as a sales engineer at Honeywell Bull (1973). In 1982, he joined a computer engineering company, Cril, as Commercial Director. Artificial Intelligence (AI), was still in its infancy at that time but promising to make computers more intelligent, more efficient. In 1986, he created A.R.C.A.N.E. (an acronym for “Automatisation du Raisonnement et de la Connaissance, Acquisition Normalisée de l’Expertise” [13]) to provide French companies with expert systems instead of just IT. At the time, expert systems were prototypes developed by large companies, most of them in the United States[14] (IntelliCorp[15], TecKnowledge, Lisp Machine, etc.).

At Arcane he made a discovery: there exists a method allowing any employee to develop expert systems out of IT departments, in a fast and efficient way. He named this method "La Maieutique"[16] in reference to Socrates maieutics. La Maieutique represents visually the know-how of experts in the form of decision trees in everyday language which it automatically extracts their underlying knowledge in the form of expert systems.

Mid-1986, for a French bank, the Banque de Bretagne, he produced the expert system Josephine (1000 rules and several external programs)[17], developed by a former bank employee with virtually no knowledge of computing and Artificial Intelligence: Michel Le Séac'h. This employee reported this experience, and more, in a book[18]. An industry first because at this time - as today in 2011 - development of experts systemes was a complex, long and expensive procedure requiring whole teams of IT specialists[19]. Other innovation, Josephine dialogued with the end user on-premise. As it was installed in bank agencies to be available to clients, journalists could test it incognito, which leads to some bad articles in the press[20]. Following this difficulties, Josephine was abandoned in 1989[21].

In the following years, Jean-Philippe de Lespinay gradually generalized his theory on the power of automated reasoning. In 1988, his company developed Moca,[22] an universal reasoning engine for sale giving explanations and detecting contradictions. In 1990, he demonstrated the reliability of La Maieutique with "Maïeutica",[23][24] a software fully automating the method. With Maieutica, he developed expert systems for French organizations (Createst, Exportest, Aloes, Soudfe, etc.)[25]

In 1991, he invented the "Flow Logic", demonstrating with his software MIAO[26](Maintenance Intelligently Assisted by Computer) that this logic was operational. Thanks to the reasoning, Miao could understand the blueprint of a machine, to deduce every potential failure and how to diagnose each of them, as an engineer would do. Thus, MIAO produced expert systems in fault diagnosis without the knowledge of experts of the machine, sometimes to help in the design of complex machines[27][28].

From 1992, he generalized in various publications his theory by stating that La Maieutique allows people with no training in IT to develop any program, not just expert systems.[29][30]

In July 1999, he created a Startup company, TREE LOGIC, with the help of venture capital and business angels in order to realize an intelligent and vocal chatterbot intended to act as an operating system of which he developed a running prototype, "Tiara"[31]. He obtained for 3 years the French "FCPI" (or Fond commun de placement for innovation) label[32], granted to small and medium enterprises. In 2001, Tree Logic developed T.Rex ("Tree Rules Extractor"), an application generator in natural language derivative of Maieutica intended for non-computer scientists[33].

Jean-Philippe de Lespinay authored several articles including a 16-page report[34] on the state of the art in Artificial Intelligence for the French popular science magazine Science et Vie, thesis on reasoning Artificial Intelligence and artificial consciousness with La Maieutique, etc.



  1. ^ Jean-Paul Baquiast and Christophe Jacquemin, Automates Intelligents, "Dossier: The Reasoning Artificial Intelligence" (2009): "Jean-Philippe de Lespinay kindly entrusted to Automates Intelligents the publication of what we would call a foundational document regarding the prospects of a new artificial intelligence"
  2. ^ Jean-Philippe de Lespinay, Les Echos, July 11, 1986 : "L'intelligence artificielle chez soi" (ie "Artificial Intelligence at home")
  3. ^ 01 Informatique, April 21, 1987: "Un système en or pour parler argent" (ie "A gold system to talk about money")
  4. ^ JP de Lespinay's conference on La Maieutique, Cesta, November 17, 1987: ""La Maieutique: une méthode de réalisation des systèmes experts opérationnels" (ie "a method of achieving operational expert systems"
  5. ^ JP de Lespinay's degree in business school
  6. ^ ARCANE registration number: 334 667 748 R.C.S. NANTES Greffe du Tribunal de Commerce de NANTES 1986
  7. ^ Tree Logic registration in French trade register
  8. ^ Intelligence artificielle : le serviteur vocal, Jean-Philippe de lespinay, Newbiz, April 20, 2002
  9. ^ Gunnar Johannsen†, and James L. Alty, Knowledge engineering for industrial expert systems, July 30, 1989 (SciencesDirect)
  10. ^ Abdur Rashid Khan, Zia Ur Rehman and Hafeez Ullah Amin, "Knowledge-Based System's Modeling for Software Process Model Selection", (IJACSA) International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications,Vol. 2, No.2, February 2011
  11. ^ Degree confirmed by judgement of the Tribunal Administratif de Nantes (June 22, 2000, No 95.2939)
  12. ^ Marital status and genalogy
  13. ^ i.e. “Automated Reasoning and Knowledge, Normalized Acquisition of the Expertise
  14. ^ The History of Artificial Intelligence: "Companies such as Digital Electronics were using XCON, an expert system designed to program the large VAX computers. DuPont, General Motors, and Boeing relied heavily on expert systems"
  15. ^ History of IntelliCorp and AI market : "Principal Competitors: Accenture; Ascential Software; Evolutionary Technologies; International Business Machines Corporation; Information Builders, Inc.; Oracle Corporation; Sun Microsystems, Inc.; Sybase, Inc."
  16. ^ 01 Informatique April 21, 1987: La Maieutique
  17. ^ Le Point February 2, 1987: "Bank : artificial money"
  18. ^ Le Séac'h, Michel, Développer un système expert (How to Develop an Expert System), PSI, Paris 1989
  19. ^ Kenneth Laudon, Jane Laudon, Eric Fimbel, "Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm", Business & Economics, 2010 edition, chapter 11-3.5 : The implementation of a large number of expert systems requires the deployment of considerable development efforts, lengthy and expensive. Hiring and training a larger number of experts may be less expensive than building an expert system .(...) Some expert systems, particularly the largest, are so complex that over years, the costs of curative and adaptive maintenance become as high as the cost of development
  20. ^ Le Monde Informatique, May 30, 1988: "A try to convert at Bank of Brittany - Is Josephine operational ? Yes, but ..."
  21. ^ Tribulations d'un inventeur français en territoire ennemi
  22. ^ Systèmes Experts, December 10, 1992: "MOCA, moteur d'inférence ou plutôt mécanisme de raisonnement (...) dont le fonctionnement est identique quelque soit le domaine..." (ie "MOCA, inference engine or rather universal reasoning mechanism"), "les raisonnements utilisés peuvent être expliqués par le système à tout moment" (ie "the reasoning can be explained by the system at any time"), "Les systèmes experts d'Arcane fonctionnent tous sur ce principe et sont les seuls quasiment maintenant sur le marché de l'informatique à appliquer la logique d'ordre zéro +" (ie "All the expert systems of Arcane work on this principle and are now virtually the only ones on the computer market to apply the Zero + Logic")
  23. ^ Alain Pauly, CXP Magazine, December 1993
  24. ^ Logiciels & Systèmes, July 1996: Maieutica
  25. ^ Createst(1987-95) was an aptitude test for business creation, developed for ANCE (the French agency for business creation); Aloes (1992-98) was a help in choosing a future profession, so higher education, developed for the University of Nancy; Exportest (1990) was an assessment test of the exporting abilities of companies, developed for a regional government (Région des Pays de la Loire); SoudFE was a conversational guide for an electron beam welding machine for the French Army (DGA); the French Ministry of Education buys 50 Miao and 50 Maieutica (version "education") for French vocational schools; etc.
  26. ^ Jean-François Cros, Industries et Techniques, February 15, 1990; Hervé Babonneau, Ouest France, February 15, 1990; Marc Feretti, Produktion, June 27, 1991
  27. ^ Marc Feretti : interview with Michel Micheneau (Merlin Gerin company), Maintenance & entreprise, November 1993
  28. ^ Systèmes Experts: "Arcane : Avec MIAO2 et Maieutica, le marché devrait redémarrer (ie "With MIAO2 and Maieutica, the market [of Artificial Intelligence in France] should restart"), Dec. 10, 1992
  29. ^ Bancatique, December 1992: Programming accessible to all
  30. ^ IX-Magazine, March 1995: Programming "for those who do not know"
  31. ^ TIARA, "08 FR IAPL 0JG9 - Artificial Intelligence - a speaking and user-friendly computer", European CRI innovations database, January 8, 2008
  32. ^ French FCPI label (ANVAR, March 27, 2000)
  33. ^ Le développement à la portée de tous, Le Monde Informatique, July 13, 2001
  34. ^ Jean-Philippe de Lespinay, Science & Vie, Intelligence artificielle : du zéro pointé au "zéro plus" (May 1991)
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