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RE: No Standard Semantic Web Pragmatics?

From: Lynn, James (Software Services) <james.lynn@hp.com>
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 13:41:48 -0400
Message-ID: <5A5CC5E87DE62148845CC96C8868900E017F7C12@ataexc02.americas.cpqcorp.net>
To: "Jim Hendler" <hendler@cs.umd.edu>, "John Black" <JohnBlack@deltek.com>, "Pat Hayes" <phayes@ihmc.us>
Cc: "Sandro Hawke" <sandro@w3.org>, "Peter F. Patel-Schneider" <pfps@research.bell-labs.com>, <public-sw-meaning@w3.org>


Just to make sure I understand your position regarding this, can you tell me or give an example of how I would know, or even be relatively sure, whether someone is making an observation about a statement or accepting that statment in what some might call a legally binding manner. The statement "I agree with these terms and conditions" comes to mind, but use your own example if you wish? Does this statement enter into a legal contract? Is this simply a matter of using the correct definition of the word "agree" as in legally_binding:agree vs. myopinion: agree?


James Lynn

> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-sw-meaning-request@w3.org
> [mailto:public-sw-meaning-request@w3.org]On Behalf Of Jim Hendler
> Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2004 1:29 PM
> To: John Black; Pat Hayes
> Cc: Sandro Hawke; Peter F. Patel-Schneider; public-sw-meaning@w3.org
> Subject: RE: No Standard Semantic Web Pragmatics?
> John - somehow in all this mess below you've missed my key point -- I 
> don't care whether putting something in RDF counts as asserting it or 
> not --  here, let me try this:
> Hendler's postulate:  Creating content on the Web in an RDF document, 
> or equivalent graph store, is exactly equivalent in terms of speech 
> act theory to creating content on the web in HTNL, XHTML or any other 
> machine readable format.
> There, now based on Hendler's postulate, I can ignore 90% of the 
> discussion on this list -- it's that other 10% which seems to me to 
> get past the philosophical nonsense and get to what I care about -- 
> is there some way I can use pointers in one document to pointers in 
> another,  coupled with various tools (including inference and 
> reasoning engines) to exploit the content placed there in some useful 
> way, perhaps with a set of social conventions that work most of the 
> time without being driven to uselessness if some pathological use 
> occurs (like someone claiming to be a divine being)
> To put it another way, I would like the speech act stuff to be up to 
> the client to determine in whatever idiosyncratic way it wishes, but 
> we could have some social conventions that make that easier, and are 
> usually useful.
>   -JH
> p.s. I wanted to rename this to break the thread into separable 
> pieces, but Icouldn't actually come up with a better name...
> At 11:38 -0400 6/17/04, John Black wrote:
> >>From: Jim Hendler
> >>Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2004 5:59 PM
> >
> >>At 9:43 -0400 6/16/04, John Black wrote:
> >>>>  From: Jim Hendler
> >>>>  Sent: Monday, June 14, 2004 7:07 PM
> >>>>
> >>>>  >>However, another key idea grew about the same time -- 
> as long as we
> >>>>  >>are using URIs, we could make those URIs 
> dereferencable -- that is,
> >>>>  >>we could look and see if there is a document there, and if so,
> >>>>  >>perhaps that document could describe the link -- RDFS and OWL
> >>>>  >>provide vocabularies that live at those links and provide
> >>>>  >>information about the "intent" of those relationships.
> >>>>  >
> >>>>  >No, that is exactly what they do not provide. That is 
> John's point:
> >>>>  >there is a gap here precisely because the SW notations 
> only express
> >>>>  >CONTENT, they do not express INTENTION.  The stuff about
> >>>>  >performatives in the paper I helped write was intended 
> to be a step
> >>>>  >towards bridging this gap, since performatives in 
> natural language
> >>>>  >are exactly where an intention is expressed 
> unambiguously by stating
> >>>>  >- describing - the intention. If enough people say 
> that Jack and
> >>>>  >Jill are married, in the right way and under the right
> >>>>  >circumstances, then they are married. If I say "I 
> promise to buy you
> >>>>  >lunch" then an actual promise got created: I performed 
> a social act
> >>>>  >by saying that I was performing it. Very handy, that 
> is: it gets you
> >>>>  >from mere descriptions (which we indubitably have in 
> RDF and OWL) to
> >>>>  >actual intentional actions: it gets assertings 
> (denials, explicit
> >>>>  >non-assertings, endorsements, whatever) actually done, and in a
> >>>>  >publicly checkable way rather than being left implicit.
> >>>>
> >>>>  Ah, right right right -- I knew you logician types have 
> this bug up
> >>>>  your butts about "intent" -- and that is why I put it in scare
> >>>>  quotes, but I should have made it even clear i was 
> using the term in
> >>>>  an informal and not a technical sense -- however, that 
> said,I think
> >>>>  it is this hangup with "intent" somehow being a 
> mysterious thing that
> >>>>  is largely to blame for our lack of progress on this 
> social meaning
> >>>>  stuff
> >>>
> >>>Could you please elaborate on this attribution of blame to 
> "this hang-up
> >>>with 'intent'"? I'm really curious about this. Since it is 
> my intention
> >>>to achieve progress on this issue, I don't want to stumble into a
> >>>position where I am to blame for the lack of it. (You 
> could leave out
> >>>the scatological ad hominem attacks and slurs against professional
> >>>groups unless you think that is critical to your point)
> >>
> >>
> >>the ad hominen attacks aren't crucial, but the email gets 
> really boring
> >>without them...
> >>
> >>>>  Consider, if you go to my HTML web page you will see a 
> link to a page
> >>>>  that has pictures of my daughter.  You have no way to 
> know what my
> >>>>  intent was in putting them there -- you can guess at some
> >>>>  possibilities (wrong, I was not trying to raise the 
> price that would
> >>>>  be offered for her on the black market) but you can't 
> know what I had
> >>>>  in mind.  If I had labeled those photos in RDF, OWL, or 
> KIF there is
> >>>>  no reason why I would have told you one whit more about 
> my intent --
> >>>>  I might have made it unambiguous that I was averring 
> that the person
> >>>>  depicted in the photograph was one with whom I had the familiar
> >>>>  relationship of type daughter -- but you still wouldn't have any
> >>>>  intent behind it.
> >>>
> >>>Well to the extent that I don't know what your intent was 
> you didn't
> >>>communicate. There is nothing wrong with that. Its sounds like what
> >>>you intended. I can still view the pictures.
> >>
> >>
> >>the point is you can view the pictures with no idea of why 
> I put them
> >>there - which is what I was after
> >
> >But that supports my point, the web is used for many good things that
> >have nothing to do with assertion of truth values, so it is 
> false that
> >every page asserts the truth functional propositional value 
> of its content.
> >Say now you want to post some RDF and assert it. How do I know the
> >difference? Suppose your intent, whatever that was, in 
> posting this RDF
> >page, was the same as it was for your daughters pictures? Could be,
> >right? You don't say so I can't tell. There seems to be an 
> unspecified
> >assumption that, when it matters, when you do want to assert 
> your RDF,
> >it will somehow be obvious. Now who is depending on telepathic
> >transmission of intention?
> >
> >>>
> >>>But I disagree with you that I cannot recognize your intent if you
> >>>take pains to communicate it to me. Nor am I talking about any
> >>>mysterious supernatural mind-melding, telepathy, or otherwise
> >>>peering into the interiority of your consciousness. No, I am
> >>>talking about one of the most extraordinary properties of human
> >>>communication, "...If I am trying to tell someone something, then
> >>>(assuming certain conditions are satisfied) as soon as he 
> recognizes
> >>>that I am trying to tell him something and exactly what it is I am
> >>>trying to tell him, I have succeeded in telling it to him. 
> Furthermore,
> >>>unless he recognizes that I am trying to tell him 
> something and what
> >>>I am trying to tell him, I do not fully succeed in telling 
> it to him."
> >>>-John R. Searle, Speech Acts, p.47
> >>
> >>
> >>I'll work off of this, although I should mention that early 
> in my career
> >>I wrote several things (published in long lost workshop 
> proceedings I
> >>suspect) that argued with the above - Searle's stuff 
> ignored some pragmatic
> >>issues IMHO  -- in particular, the last sentence of the 
> above is one I
> >>disagree with - but it's not really germane to this discussion...
> >>
> >>>
> >>>And again using "intention" explicitly, "In speaking I attempt to
> >>>communicate certain things to my hearer by getting him to recognize
> >>>my intention to communicate just those things. I achieve 
> the intended
> >>>effect on the hearer by getting him to recognize my intention to
> >>>achieve that effect, and as soon as the hearer recognizes 
> what it is
> >>>my intention to achieve, it is in general achieved. He understands
> >>>what I am saying as soon as he recognizes my intention in uttering
> >>>what I utter as an intention to say that thing."
> >>>-John R. Searle, Speech Acts, p.43
> >>>
> >>
> >>
> >>again, can't you understand what is on my web page in ways I may not
> >>have anticipated without knowing what my intent was on putting them
> >>there?
> >
> >Of course I can. I compare it to this. I like to take my 4 
> year old son
> >to the mall so he can play in the playground. While there, I 
> like to watch
> >people. Being a portrait artist in a previous career, I like 
> to observe
> >the behavior and faces of the people I see. I observe them 
> talking and
> >gesturing to each other. They are not communicating with me, 
> and that's fine.
> >And the web can be used for other acts besides communication 
> as well, and
> >I can go on line and watch people engage in web posting acts 
> and learn
> >things from it and so on. What I'm getting at is, when do I 
> know to start
> >treating RDF posting as an assertion of the propositions it 
> contains? How
> >am I supposed to know what counts as a speech act and not 
> just another
> >web posting act?
> >
> >I believe you are arguing my position. So tell Sandro and 
> Peter and Dan
> >that posting something on the web is not by default a truth 
> functional
> >assertion. Sometimes its just posting behavior. Who knows what for.
> >And I can come closer to Sandro's position here. I can observe your
> >RDF-posting behavior as well, without taking it to count as 
> communication,
> >or even knowing if it should. I can even analyze or reason with the
> >propositions contained in the artifacts of your RDF-posting behavior
> >without taking them to count as yours or anyone's statements for that
> >matter. Now I am really close to Sandro's position. But my 
> point is that
> >I can't take that last step, of knowing that now, these propositions
> >do count as a communication of the assertion of the 
> propositions of that
> >RDF by a certain person. And when it matters, it matters. If it
> >doesn't matter, it doesn't matter - and I don't care either.
> >
> >And I think that there should be a simple, easy, standard, out of
> >the box way to make that intention clear.
> >
> >However, your argument below, which I will take the liberty of
> >paraphrasing as 'do it with code for now and maybe we can make it
> >declarative later', which, if that's what your saying, at least
> >acknowledges that there may be something here that needs to be done.
> >So I'll stop for now and go back to writing code - lots and lots
> >of it - and hope that my code works together with everyone elses.
> >
> >>It's unclear to me how much Searle's Speech Act theory really
> >>relates to human interaction on the Web (let alone agent 
> interaction)
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>>  So if we simply can argue w/respect to what the links 
> state (in the
> >>>  factual sense) and attribute their ownership based on 
> where they are
> >>>  asserted (oops, I mean where the bit stream defining 
> them is found -
> >>>  since assertion is another bug up the arse) - then 
> perhaps we could
> >>>  have made some useful progress on stating "what's in a link"
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>  >>And technically, that is the heart of the Semantic Web 
> architecture
> >>>  >>- links that can be named and described more formally.
> >>>  >>
> >>>  >>IMO, the social meaning issue arises from the fact that we have
> >>>  >>both referencing and dereferecing going on.  When links share a
> >>>  >>URI, and there's no document at that URI to 
> dereference, then it is
> >>>  >>clear that any meaning of that term is in some sort of off-line
> >>>  >>"Social" conventions between the users thereof.  
> However, when we
> >>>  >>add the dereferencing it becomes trickier -- because 
> now we have to
> >>>  >>ask if use of the term in some way "commits" to what is in the
> >>>  >>dereferencing document, if the owner of that document 
> controls the
> >>>  >>use of the term, etc.
> >>>  >>
> >>>  >>There's lots of other "social meaning" issues on the 
> Semantic Web,
> >>>  >>and the threads on this list talk about many of them, but in my
> >>>  >>mind the key ones are those that arise from the issue of the
> >>>  >>relation between the named terms and the documents 
> that describe,
> >>>  >>in some formal way, the use of those terms
> >>>  >
> >>>  >Well, yes, but (IMO) only because such dereferencing is 
> the only way
> >>>  >to establish any kind of link between a URI and 
> anything that can be
> >>>  >plausibly attributed agency. In order for a promise (etc) to be
> >>>  >done, there has to be an agent doing the promising. 
> Similarly for
> >>>  >asserting, denying, etc. . Without agents (and I really do mean
> >>>  >SOCIAL agents, not software agents) in the picture, all 
> we have is
> >>>  >sentences being looked at: nothing is asserted at all.
> >>
> >>>And I would add, defining and naming. Unless we also have an agent
> >>>acting with the intent and authority to define or name, all we have
> >>>is even more sentences. Without it, we are stuck in a room with a
> >>>Chinese/Chinese dictionary, trying to ground our symbols in an
> >>>endless series of more symbols. I really think this may be the
> >>>Grand Synthesis I predicted in our last telecon. We have 
> been thinking
> >>>of URI dereferencing as being a means of adding in more formal>
> >>>propositions and descriptions to our groundless lists. Instead,
> >>>URI dereferencing could be the source of AGENCY, INTENTION, AND
> >>>AUTHORITY that really could be the basis of an automated 
> communication
> >>>system with reasoning.
> >>
> >>
> >>the ad hominen attacks above were largely aimed at the stuff you are
> >>quoting now, and thus I will not respond - if I can't say 
> something nice
> >>about Searle's >Chinese room <expletive deleted> I can't 
> say anything at
> >>all.
> >
> >>that is - I'd claim any machine that could do what Searle 
> claims in less
> >>than infinite time would have to understand Chinese -- and 
> I'd claim that
> >>we can get the same sort of pragmatic effcts on the web 
> without having to
> >>deal with Agency, intention and authority -- should be 
> noted that I am the
> >>ultimate "scruffy" in this, and that Pat has already dealt me some
> >>devastating blows in his response to my message (and I've  
> decided to
> >>ignore them, rather than deal with them as Pat and I have 
> been having
> >>this discussion on and off for going on twenty years now 
> and I cannot
> >>remember how I refuted them last time :->)
> >
> >>
> >>>However, I don't want to alarm anyone with this word, 
> >>>its connotations of condign power and all. So I came up with a
> >>>replacement, UNDERWRITER. To say your terms are underwritten by
> >>>an impressive agent would be to say that agent provides a warranty
> >>>promising to compensate you if you use a term they have 
> underwritten
> >>>to mean one thing and you lose money because someone misunderstands
> >>>you to mean something else. It gives a whole new meaning to Humpty
> >>>Dumpty's strategy to have his words mean what he pays them to mean.
> >>>That said, I am completely serious about this.
> >>
> >
> >
> >>look, I understand a lot of this stuff - and if I have heard this
> >>argument that if we want agents to be at the heart of e-commerce,
> >>trust will be required -- but I also stick my ATM card into bank
> >>machines that have access to my real money, and which give me real
> >>money, and I know that they have no model of Agency, intention, and
> >>authority/underwriting in any real sense -- there's a set of human
> >>social agreements with all these things that are enforced by the
> >>infrastructure, and tested by trusted entities (the banks) to where
> >>I am willing to trust them.  If I find an arbitrary web site that
> >>says Peter is a perfect being, then more fool me if I believe it
> >>(but it's perfectly fine if I stick it into my crawler results so
> >>that when someone asks "perfect being" I return pointers to that
> >>page among all the others).
> >
> >
> >>In short, I realize what I am really arguing for is some sort of
> >>operational semantics of this stuff that makes some sense to us as
> >>humans, works well enough in practice for us to build systems out
> >>of, and someday can perhaps be formalized as an interesting new
> >>means of human-machine interaction.  There's a nice example of
> >>that in something called "programming langauges" where operational
> >>semantics have gotten us pretty danged far.
> >
> >
> >>So put me down as a pragmatist over a Searlean (even if I do tend
> >>towards the Surly)
> >
> >>>  well, we humans seem to be social agents who handle this 
> assertional
> >>>  stuff just fine - we know how to differentiate (at least in
> >>>  principle) between "what Pat said" and "What I think Pat 
> meant" - and
> >>>  we usually conditionalize the latter in civil discourse 
> -- seems to
> >>>  me our Sem Web agents could do the same and we could move on to
> >>>  actually looking at this use of dereferencable URIs as 
> something that
> >>>  could add a lot of power to the SW if we had some social
> >>>  conventions/expectations.
> >
> >
> >>so replace "semantic conventions/expectations" with "operational
> >>semantics" and you'll see what I've been saying is actually a
> >>relatively consistent position
> >>  -JH
> >>p.s. and if you want to see what I think the basis of operational
> >>semantics for this stuff might be, go back to my early messages
> >>about URIs and dereferencing in this group
> >-- cf 
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-sw-meaning/2003Sep/
>>>  (i.e. I claim I am legitimized to believe that Peter believes that he
>>>  is a perfect being by dint of stating it on his page -- I may be
>>>  wrong, but then I'm usually wrong about what Peter believes, so
>>>  what's different about this?)
>>Professor James Hendler                   http://www.cs.umd.edu/users/hendler
>>Director, Semantic Web and Agent Technologies       301-405-2696
>>Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Lab.      301-405-6707 (Fax)
>>Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742      240-277-3388 (Cell)

Professor James Hendler			  http://www.cs.umd.edu/users/hendler
Director, Semantic Web and Agent Technologies	  301-405-2696
Maryland Information and Network Dynamics Lab.	  301-405-6707 (Fax)
Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742	  240-277-3388 (Cell)
Received on Thursday, 17 June 2004 13:44:29 UTC

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