I came across a NY Times article recently discussing software used by the CIA to scour the web for terrorist messages.
The company behind the sofware, Attensity Corporation, has developed tools which can take the near-infinite masses of unstructed data on the Internet, and turn it into meaningful information. They've developed algorithms that can parse sentences, extracting the subject, object, verb, etc. enabling the computer to process the plain text and take contextually relevant actions.
This type of software, teaching a computer to read and extract read information from text, is exactly the sort of project I have in mind. I guess all those grammar lessons spent diagramming sentences in elementary school were actually important.