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

From: Myers, Jim <MYERSJ4@rpi.edu>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2011 12:30:43 -0400
Message-ID: <B7376F3FB29F7E42A510EB5026D99EF20534A2BD@troy-be-ex2.win.rpi.edu>
To: martin <martin@ics.forth.gr>, <public-prov-wg@w3.org>
Martin,

I don't think we should get into 'robot rights' at all, but I think
there are use cases where we need to capture that an operating system,
workflow engine, scheduler, etc. was part of the delegated chain of
control. All of these could potentially be modeled as processes that
'trigger' other processes, but while they are unlike humans in terms of
intentionality, they are long-running (potentially involved in many
provenance traces), may have state that can change (i.e. dynamic
adjustments to queueing policy), and potentially have a more complex
interaction with the processes they trigger than simply providing a
start signal (i.e. a workflow that runs some logic to 'decide' what to
run next, when to terminate processes early, etc.) My personal opinion
is that these aspects are easier to capture if we let software play an
agency role, recognizing that intentionality had to come from some
further agent (the person who ran a workflow engine and/or the person
who designed its algorithms), versus making intentionality the criterion
for agency and trying to address control software's characteristics as
part of the concept of process. Definitely a compromise either way and
perhaps something the group can vote about....

I'll also note that delegation happens in thinking beings too - an
organization delegates to me to get a job done, but I am not the legal
agent, the organization is - they get sued not me because they had the
intent. This doesn't negate the concern that conscious/intentional
actors are different than software agents, but I think it questions the
line of reasoning about legality. (Software also comes with warrantees
and disclaimers because otherwise there is some assumption that the
software is responsible for 'its actions'...or it's makers are
responsible because somehow their responsibility for decisions made is
delegated.).

 Jim

> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-prov-wg-request@w3.org [mailto:public-prov-wg-
> request@w3.org] On Behalf Of martin
> Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2011 11:59 AM
> To: public-prov-wg@w3.org
> Subject: Re: PROV-ISSUE-4: Defining Agent using FOAF's definition
> 
> Jim,
> 
> I agree with research groups, organizations, corporations, etc.,
> 
> but in my opinion, software agents working on someone's behalf are a
> nebulous concept. Since more than 15 years I see ontologies that
include
> machine under "Agent", but I have not seen any objective definition
from
> which degree on a machine would be regarded to "act" or "work" on
> someones behalf, rather than mechanically "react". The scenario is
very
> intense in science fiction, but todays robots are far from having
intensions of
> their own.
> 
> Legally, I can not sue my e-commerce robot for disobeying me. The
Actor
> who has set up the machine is the one responsible. In provenance, I
would
> not search a S/W agent to give me more information about his project.
> 
> Machines and S/W, to my understanding, are sufficiently described by
being
> used, run or executed as tools, whereas Actors would have initiative,
> responsibility, rights, and are not "started", "executed" or "run".
> 
> Besides the intriguing philisophical questions about what "agency" may
> mean, I see no relevant question for provenance that would be
simplified by
> not distinguishing people from their tools.
> 
> To my opinion "simple" model is not the one with the minimal number of
> concepts, but the one, for which it is simple to say if an item is
instance of a
> concept of the model yes or no, and which have clear and distinct
properties
> from each other.
> Therefore I vote against machines or S/W being "Agents" in the same
sense
> as people.
> 
> Best,
> 
> Martin
> 
> 
> 
> On 6/21/2011 11:05 PM, Myers, Jim wrote:
> > Martin,
> > I would agree that trying to define intensity of agency is a black
> > hole, beyond perhaps something that mirrors the
> > dc:creator/dc:contributor type of split, i.e. if the group feels
that
> > controls vs. participates is a useful if still vague distinction,
then OK.
> >
> > I do think that research groups, organizations, corporations, etc.
are
> > valid things though, as would be workflow engines/schedulers and
> > software agents working on someone's behalf.
> >
> >   Jim
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: public-prov-wg-request@w3.org [mailto:public-prov-wg-
> >> request@w3.org] On Behalf Of martin
> >> Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 3:53 PM
> >> To: public-prov-wg@w3.org
> >> Subject: Re: PROV-ISSUE-4: Defining Agent using FOAF's definition
> >>
> >> 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_Lag
> > oz
> > e)
> >>
> >> 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
> >>>   >  >>>  >
> >>>   >  >>>  >
> >>>   >  >>>
> >>>   >  >>>
> >>>   >  >>>
> >>>   >
> >>>
> >>
> >>
> >> --
> >>
> >> --------------------------------------------------------------
> >>    Dr. Martin Doerr              |  Vox:+30(2810)391625        |
> >>    Research Director             |  Fax:+30(2810)391638        |
> >>                                  |  Email: martin@ics.forth.gr |
> >>                                                                |
> >>                  Center for Cultural Informatics               |
> >>                  Information Systems Laboratory                |
> >>                   Institute of Computer Science                |
> >>      Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)   |
> >>                                                                |
> >>    Vassilika Vouton,P.O.Box1385,GR71110 Heraklion,Crete,Greece |
> >>                                                                |
> >>            Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl               |
> >> --------------------------------------------------------------
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> 
> 
> --
> 
> --------------------------------------------------------------
>   Dr. Martin Doerr              |  Vox:+30(2810)391625        |
>   Research Director             |  Fax:+30(2810)391638        |
>                                 |  Email: martin@ics.forth.gr |
>                                                               |
>                 Center for Cultural Informatics               |
>                 Information Systems Laboratory                |
>                  Institute of Computer Science                |
>     Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)   |
>                                                               |
>   Vassilika Vouton,P.O.Box1385,GR71110 Heraklion,Crete,Greece |
>                                                               |
>           Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl               |
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> 
Received on Thursday, 23 June 2011 16:31:54 GMT

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