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Re: Are generic resources intentional?

From: Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Thu, 28 May 2009 14:42:49 -0500
Cc: Jonathan Rees <jar@creativecommons.org>, AWWSW TF <public-awwsw@w3.org>
Message-Id: <1E5C1862-2AB7-43FE-A619-554FB41F67C7@ihmc.us>
To: Alan Ruttenberg <alanruttenberg@gmail.com>

On May 28, 2009, at 12:40 PM, Alan Ruttenberg wrote:

> Hi Pat,
> I don't see how switching from intent to artifact helps anything,
> rather the opposite in my experience. First, "agency" seems to me to
> be something equally of the mind, and second all practical efforts
> that I've made in conjunction with OBI (Ontology of Biomedical
> Investigation) haven't panned out.
> I think in the end we are going to have a mind involved

What about websites created by autonomous software?

> and if we are
> we might as well deal with the source then trying to track down the
> effects without reference to the locus. Seems like in practice that
> there are going to be fewer things that are difficult to define in the
> the end if we bite the bullet on "intent" being difficult to define,
> accept it as a primitive for now, and work forward.

Oh, I agree we shouldnt be trying to DEFINE any of these concepts. I'd  
be happy to just treat 'artifact' as a primitive and say that its  
obvious that numbers, abstract categories, etc. are clearly not  
artifacts, but that any website (howsoever it got created, even if it  
was by a cat walking on a keyboard somewhere) clearly is. There are  
always going to be possible-but-silly examples which break any  
proposed strict if&onlyif definition.


> However, I will admit to not being a trained philosopher, and if you
> think that there is a good document that makes it clear what artifact
> and agency are, then I'm game for a read.
> That said, I will respond to the substance of Jonathan's message in a
> separate email.
> Best,
> Alan
> On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 9:46 AM, Pat Hayes <phayes@ihmc.us> wrote:
>> Reading this, seems to me (provisionally) that "having intent"  
>> might be
>> rephrased as "being an artifact"; that is, existing as the result  
>> of agency
>> of some kind rather than a natural process. (?) If so, that might  
>> be a nice
>> connection with some traditional philosophical distinctions that  
>> have stood
>> the test of time; and it avoids having to say what intent "is". And  
>> it has
>> the advantage, I'd suggest, of focusing on the thing rather than  
>> the innards
>> of the mind of its creator, which is always going to be a black box/ 
>> hole.
>> Pat
>> On May 28, 2009, at 7:48 AM, Jonathan Rees wrote:
>>> I've been puzzling over the question of how two generic-resources  
>>> can
>>> have the same trace by virtue of a difference in meaning, e.g. the  
>>> use
>>> case Tim gives where he and I both work at Burger King for a week  
>>> and
>>> end up with identical-looking time sheets (same trace), that are
>>> really distinct generic-resources simply because of properties not
>>> reflected in the traces.
>>> Allow me to call this difference "intent" - I won't define this but
>>> Alan, don't jump all over me, build on what I say. It is the missing
>>> dimension, the resource's "essential characteristic" that is not
>>> conveyed in any wa-representation.
>>> I don't know what "intent" is ontologically; I use the word as a
>>> placeholder. It has to be quite broad, so that it allows me to say
>>> that the GR named by
>>> http://random.org/integers/?num=100&min=1&max=100&col=5&base=10&format=html&rnd=new
>>> has "intent" - namely the web site author's intent to satisfy the
>>> world's hunger for white noise. Generally, we have grandfathered all
>>> "web pages" just by saying that none of them are accidental
>>> (unintentional) - someone went to the trouble of registering a  
>>> domain
>>> name, setting up a server, and deploying content. We also get Moby
>>> Dick, since someone went to the trouble of writing it - it didn't  
>>> fall
>>> from the sky. And we get Finnegan's Wake and Beethoven's 7th for the
>>> same reason even though know one knows what message they convey.
>>> But I think "intent" can explain another use case Tim has given.  
>>> He is
>>> adamant that numbers, such as the 46th Mersenne prime, are not
>>> information resources. I was puzzled by his refusal because it seems
>>> very clear to me that all of its essential characteristics *can* be
>>> conveyed in a message; I just did so. But if we set aside the AWWW
>>> definition of IR, and instead talk about the Tim-derived GR model,  
>>> we
>>> can say that something that has a wa-representation that is a  
>>> numeral
>>> designating the 46th Mersenne prime is a perfectly fine GR, since  
>>> the
>>> *intent* is to communicate the digits of the 46th Mersenne prime;
>>> while the number itself does not carry any intent and is therefore  
>>> not
>>> a GR.
>>> More generally, "intent" explains why GRs are contingent on the real
>>> world, as opposed to being purely mathematical constructions, while
>>> still being able to withstand any Xiaoshu-like attempts at giving  
>>> them
>>> mass and phsyical location.
>>> If we can determine that
>>> (a) "intent" is not vacuous, and
>>> (b) "intent" is the *only* way that generic-resources can differ,
>>> other than in their traces
>>> then we will have a complete characterization of generic  
>>> resources: GR
>>> = trace + intent.
>>> I read this and find "intent" to be very similar to "phlogiston",  
>>> but
>>> remember that chemistry had its origins in alchemy.
>>> Jonathan
>>> Appendix: Use cases
>>> 1.
>>> http://random.org/integers/?num=100&min=1&max=100&col=5&base=10&format=html&rnd=new
>>>  - yes
>>> 2. Moby Dick  -yes
>>> 3. Beethoven's 7th  - yes
>>> 4. 46 Mersenne Prime  - no
>>> 5. A 19th-century publication that has no URI yet (possibly ever)  
>>> - yes
>>> 6. data:text/plain,intent_depends_on_context  - no? (doesn't imply
>>> intent; only names a trace)
>>> 7. function from time and request to representation - no (doesn't
>>> imply intent; only names a trace)
>>> 8. "network data object" a la RFC 2616 - some of them, yes, if you
>>> take this to mean "generic resource deployed on a network"
>>> 9. "network service" a la RFC 2616 - ?
>>> ...
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
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IHMC                                     (850)434 8903 or (650)494 3973
40 South Alcaniz St.           (850)202 4416   office
Pensacola                            (850)202 4440   fax
FL 32502                              (850)291 0667   mobile
phayesAT-SIGNihmc.us       http://www.ihmc.us/users/phayes
Received on Thursday, 28 May 2009 19:43:30 UTC

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