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Re: PROV-ISSUE-4: Defining Agent using FOAF's definition

From: martin <martin@ics.forth.gr>
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2011 22:52:58 +0300
Message-ID: <4E00F69A.30905@ics.forth.gr>
To: public-prov-wg@w3.org
Dear All,

I fear the definition of "agent" as a role, in particular tied to causality, will lead us to philosophical pitfalls.
There is no objective notion of causality, beyond the controlled environment of logical machinery, and even in this
environment it is not straightforward. Social causality is known to be subjective and view-dependent. In physics, there is
no more a notion of strict causality.

If we want to make the model simple, we should not speculate about the intensity
of "agency", but state if a human being or a social human group is directly present, involved in or legally responsible for
a process. Then the modes of presence, involvement or "agency" can be defined by subproperties. Therefore, in ISO21127, we preferred
the term "Actor" over "Agent".

A possible construct would be to define an "Agent" as an n-ary relationship (an RDF class) between the actual
persons and the process in question. Such models however introduce an ugly indirection, which satisfies more philosophical views than
practical needs. Ultimately, this is however the need if "Agent" is seen as a process-dependent role, because otherwise the real persons
behind cannot be identified, and this is what we need for provenance, much more than details of their ways of acting. This
problem was discussed between the working groups of CIDOC CRM and ABC Harmony
(http://tc.eserver.org/authors/Doerr,_Martin,_Jane_Hunter_and_Carl_Lagoze)

In the course of finding very generic classes, one is easily lost in philosophical problems. It is not only important to create
as few concepts as possible, but also concepts of things and facts that can easily be veryfied and identified. Presence of
people or legal responsibility is normally well-defined in the processes we are interested in.

The European library practice registers "authors" in the sense of "Actor" presented above, whereas the American tradition used to
register "authors" relative to the creation of a book. Recently, the American practice was found highly problematic for information
integration, and slowly the European is internationally adopted. We should not make the same mistakes.

We should not be misled by the physicality of a human body that a social group, such as a research team, may constitute one
Actor or Agent, but not easily be identified as a "Thing".


Best,

Martin

On 6/21/2011 9:34 PM, Myers, Jim wrote:
> Stephan,
>
> I can see the argument that an agent could be seen as a view, but it doesn’t sound as compelling to me as student or employee as views –
> those view would have additional properties (student ID, major, salary, etc.) and such views have some longevity. In contrast, I’m not sure
> what new properties me as an agent would have and it seems more like I’d be creating the agent-view-of-me just for PIL (single use to have
> something to control a process). If we have me, and a student view of me, do we also want a student-agent-view of me to take a test? I raise
> this example in part to show that if agency is a role, one could still have views such as student-view-of-me that could play that role.
>
> I guess I should also ask if agents are IVPs of other things – would they still be a special type or are they just things too, as other IVPs
> currently are? If they are not special types, I think this would become a model where things can control processes and a suggested/best
> practice might be to create an IVP in cases where there’s a need to distinguish some characteristics of a thing-as-agent that are different
> than the thing itself. Is that the intent?
>
> Jim
>
> *From:*Stephan Zednik [mailto:zednis@rpi.edu]
> *Sent:* Tuesday, June 21, 2011 1:59 PM
> *To:* Satya Sahoo
> *Cc:* Myers, Jim; Graham Klyne; Luc Moreau; public-prov-wg@w3.org
> *Subject:* Re: PROV-ISSUE-4: Defining Agent using FOAF's definition
>
> Hi all,
>
> I add my agreement to the statement that it is important to have a way to describe the provenance of an agent.
>
> Now for some random thoughts:
>
> I would like to amend Satya's last definition of agent to:
>
> "Athing that is actively causally involved in a process execution is an Agent"
>
> What is interesting about this definition is that it ties the agent-ness of a thing to the duration of the process execution. I think you
> could say the same about the prior definition that omitted 'actively'. My interest in adding 'actively' is to differentiate things that
> participate by their own power to inert factors that influence the process results.
>
> Back to the definition of agent.
>
> Perhaps agent status is an IVP of a thing?
>
> For a quick analogy; I think a thing is an agent like a student is a person. I would not argue that an agent is a role or non-thing concept
> anymore than I would argue that a student is a role or a non-person concept. Or to put it a better way, I think it would be just as odd to
> argue that an agent is a role a thing takes as it would be to argue that a student is a role a person takes.
>
> --Stephan
>
> On Jun 21, 2011, at 9:21 AM, Satya Sahoo wrote:
>
>
>
> Hi Jim,
>
>  > However agents are modeled, I think it is important to have a way to describe their provenance
>
> I agree. For example, the manufacturer or place and date of manufacture of a sensor (acting as an agent in a sensor network) are relevant
> provenance information.
>
> Best,
>
> Satya
>
> On Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 11:14 AM, Myers, Jim <MYERSJ4@rpi.edu <mailto:MYERSJ4@rpi.edu>> wrote:
>
> We debated quite a bit for OPM and ended up making agent a separate 'class' because agents appeared to blend being a thing and acting like a
> process, along with the challenge that artifacts were immutable and agents were not. Given mutable things, and potential interest/use cases
> where the provenance of agents is of interest, making people and organizations PIL:things that have an agent role in a process seems like a
> possible/useful approach.
>
> However agents are modeled, I think it is important to have a way to describe their provenance...
>
> Jim
>
>  > -----Original Message-----
>  > From: public-prov-wg-request@w3.org <mailto:public-prov-wg-request@w3.org> [mailto:public-prov-wg- <mailto:public-prov-wg->
>  > request@w3.org <mailto:request@w3.org>] On Behalf Of Graham Klyne
>  > Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 2:56 AM
>  > To: Zednik, Stephan T.
>  > Cc: Luc Moreau; public-prov-wg@w3.org <mailto:public-prov-wg@w3.org>
>  > Subject: Re: PROV-ISSUE-4: Defining Agent using FOAF's definition
>
>  >
>  > Stephan Zednik wrote:
>  > > A thing assumes the role of agent when actively participating in a > process
>  > execution?
>  >
>  > *If* the concept of an agent is needed, then I think this approach is useful.
>  > I.e. it's similar to the view discussion, more easily captured in relations.
>  >
>  > But I think someone (Jim?) made a comment that the whole notion of an agent
>  > may not be needed if some of the other concepts can be loosened up a little.
>  >
>  > #g
>  > --
>  >
>  > Stephan Zednik wrote:
>  > > Hi all,
>  > >
>  > > To answer Luc's question I originally intended to say that I thought
>  > > an agent can be defined independently of process execution and I
>  > > agreed that an agent should be a node whose relationship to a process
>  > > execution should be defined by a control/participation/influence(?) edge.
>  > >
>  > > As I thought about it a bit more I began to wonder if agent was better
>  > > described as a role (active participant) a thing takes in the context
>  > > of some specific action (in this case a process execution). An agent
>  > > is definitely a thing, but is that thing always an agent? Or is it an
>  > > agent within the context/scope of the act it has participated in?
>  > >
>  > > A thing assumes the role of agent when actively participating in a
>  > > process execution?
>  > >
>  > > I think I am leaning towards making 'agent' status of a thing
>  > > dependent upon active participation in a process execution.
>  > >
>  > > --Stephan
>  > >
>  > > On Jun 20, 2011, at 11:28 PM, Luc Moreau <L.Moreau@ecs.soton.ac.uk <mailto:L.Moreau@ecs.soton.ac.uk>
>  > > <mailto:L.Moreau@ecs.soton.ac.uk <mailto:L.Moreau@ecs.soton.ac.uk>>> wrote:
>  > >
>  > >> Hi,
>  > >>
>  > >> Reiterating a previous comment I made, can an Agent be defined
>  > >> independently of process execution?
>  > >>
>  > >> We can use the definitions of Control/Participation to define an
>  > >> agent's involvement in process execution.
>  > >>
>  > >> If we see agents/things/process executions as nodes and
>  > >> Control/Generation/... as edges of a graph, it would be nice if nodes
>  > >> could be defined independently of edges.
>  > >>
>  > >> Luc
>  > >>
>  > >>
>  > >> On 21/06/11 02:33, Satya Sahoo wrote:
>  > >>> Hi Paul and Stephan,
>  > >>> In both your definitions, what criteria distinguishes an "agent"
>  > >>> from a "process" - in terms of "do stuff"/"active role or produces a
>  > >>> specified effect"?
>  > >>>
>  > >>> Reviewing the candidate definitions of Agents, I see that Jun's,
>  > >>> Khalid's and my definitions use an explicit reference to a process
>  > >>> (execution).
>  > >>>
>  > >>> What do you think?
>  > >>>
>  > >>> Thanks.
>  > >>>
>  > >>> Best,
>  > >>> Satya
>  > >>>
>  > >>> On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 4:48 PM, Stephan Zednik <
>  > >>> <mailto:zednis@rpi.edu <mailto:zednis@rpi.edu>>zednis@rpi.edu <mailto:zednis@rpi.edu> <mailto:zednis@rpi.edu
> <mailto:zednis@rpi.edu>>> wrote:
>  > >>>
>  > >>> I like this definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary
>  > >>> because it ties in nicely with provenance
>  > >>>
>  > >>> "A person on thing that takes an active role or produces a
>  > >>> specified effect."
>  > >>>
>  > >>> --Stephan
>  > >>>
>  > >>> On Jun 20, 2011, at 2:08 PM, Paul Groth wrote:
>  > >>>
>  > >>> > Hi All,
>  > >>> >
>  > >>> > What would people think of just adopting FOAF's definition of
>  > >>> Agent for now:
>  > >>> >
>  > >>> > The Agent class is the class of agents; things that do stuff. A
>  > >>> well known sub-class is Person, representing people. Other kinds
>  > >>> of agents include Organization and Group.
>  > >>> >
>  > >>> >
>  > >>> > thanks,
>  > >>> > Paul
>  > >>> >
>  > >>> >
>  > >>>
>  > >>>
>  > >>>
>  >
>


-- 

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Received on Tuesday, 21 June 2011 19:53:48 GMT

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