John Markoff's Web 3.0 piece was an odd conflation of various kinds of "if only the world were a simpler place" AI dreams, actually triggering a full 106 microLenats on the bogometer. I wouldn't have commented on this, except that my copy of John Scalzi's The Android's Dream came today, and I read this passage that summed it up well:
In the end, however, it was not capability that limited the potential of artificial intelligence, it was hubris. Intelligence programmers almost by definition have a God complex, which means they don't like following anyone else's work, including that of nature. In conversation, intelligence programmers will speak warmly about the giants of the field that have come before them and express reverential awe regarding the evolutionary processes that time and again have spawned intelligence from non-sentience. In their heads, however, they regard the earlier programmers as hacks who went after low-hanging fruit and evolution as the long way of going about things.
It is exactly this tendency, as observed in ourselves and others, that led to the observe, document, simplify, then converge approach set out in the Microformats process.