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Re: Cross-ontologies reasoning

From: pat hayes <phayes@ihmc.us>
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2003 20:25:18 -0800
Message-Id: <p06001f3bbc0d6f8e8590@[]>
To: Francis McCabe <fgm@fla.fujitsu.com>
Cc: "Ugo Corda" <UCorda@SeeBeyond.com>, public-sws-ig@w3.org

>  I would say that the principal reasons that 
>code is not shared more are that (a) its hard to 
>perform the required communication and (b) the 
>goal/desire/wish of sharing code is contradicted 
>by the desire to profit from your own work. (Of 
>course, its nice to profit from someone else's 
>work but that is usually called stealing.)
>  Both of these issues will probably become 
>increasingly important in the heady world of 
>shared ontologies.

I can't see any reason why they would.  What 
possible motivation could someone have for 
*hiding* a SW ontology? The entire point of the 
SWeb is to mark up web pages in order that they 
will be able to support more useful kinds of 
functionality, i.e. so that readers of those 
pages will be able to do more things with them 
than they can do now.  Hiding a SW ontology makes 
about as much sense as inventing secret markup to 
prevent web-browsers reading your web page. If 
you wanted to keep it secret, why would you put 
it on the Web in the first place?

On the contrary, it seems to me that the SW will 
succeed precisely because the interests of those 
publishing SW content, and the interests of those 
with engines capable of reading and doing 
something useful with SW content, clearly 
converge. It is to everyone's interest to ensure 
that semantic markup is as unambiguous and as 
sharable as possible: those with markup on pages 
trying to sell things will want their readers to 
know about it, and people wishing to buy will 
want to read as much as they can about what is 
for sale; and similarly for most other kinds of 
transaction involving publication of content. 
This is how the entire human commercial system 
works, and in fact is one of the reasons why we 
are all deluged by the spam that you so rightly 

>  Any plan/architecture/technology that doesn't 
>properly respect ownership is going to lead us 
>into trouble (strong fences good neighbours make 
>etc). You can make a case that spam is `caused' 
>by a lack of concern about good fences.

Seems to me that you are thinking about an 
entirely different enterprise. I'm not sure what 
it is, the one you are thinking about (each of us 
has their own private ontology, kept in a secret 
cage and only shown to our closest friends.... 
but why?) but it isn't the SWeb.

>(I don't know about you, but thses days I get approx 200-300 SPAM/day.)

Yeh, we all do. So what has that got to do with what we are talking about here?


>On Dec 21, 2003, at 11:10 AM, pat hayes wrote:
>>Pat, you wrote:
>>>  But the real reason for optimism is that there
>>>  is no reason not to do this, and every reason to do it.  Human
>>>  language evolved because it is useful to be understood and to
>>>  understand: the ability to communicate benefits both ends of the
>>>  communication channel. So writers of ontological content for the
>>>  SWeb, and users (readers) of that content, will all feel the economic
>>>  pressure to re-use existing content as far as possible, so that they
>>>  can be understood and can understand one another. All this pessimism
>>>  seems to me to be like worrying that if people were all to invent
>>>  their own language, communication would be very difficult. Which is
>>>  true, but only relevant if there is any reason to think that people
>>>  are likely to do that: and there isn't.
>>I appreciate your optimism, but I prefer to 
>>maintain a healthy skepticism in this area. 
>>(Too much optimism, after all, is what caused 
>>the disillusionment and backlash of the "AI 
>>That was caused by too much BOASTING, not too 
>>much optimism. And we got over it, eventually. 
>>Still, I agree that scepticism is a useful 
>>strategy, provided it is informed scepticism 
>>The subject of human communication is, of 
>>course, extremely complex and we could spend 
>>endless time on it. Let me just point out that 
>>it is not always true that people strive for 
>>communication. There are so many examples of 
>>language variations intended to communicate 
>>only within a restricted circle of people at 
>>the exclusion of everybody else, or not to be 
>>understood, period (just think of some 
>>political jargon).
>>All true; but (1) ontology sharing isnt 
>>anywhere near as hard as human communication; 
>>and (2) suppose the scenario you suggest 
>>happens on the SWeb: is that a problem? If 
>>subcommunities do not wish or need to share 
>>meanings, then the fact that they do not is not 
>>a problem.
>>But let's look at something much simpler and 
>>down to earth: the goal of code sharing. It has 
>>been discussed for so many years within the 
>>computer community, and in theory it makes so 
>>much sense. But the reality has been very 
>>disappointing so far. Ontology sharing has some 
>>of the characteristics of code sharing, and I 
>>would like to understand what would make 
>>ontology sharing much more successful than code 
>>Good point. My knee-jerk reaction is that 
>>ontologies do not need the maintenance of any 
>>kind of state other than that which is 
>>expressed in the ontology itself. This is why 
>>assertional languages are inherently more 
>>transparent to context than almost all kinds of 
>>code.  It is quite hard to keep the formalisms 
>>'pure' in this way (witness the current debates 
>>about using negation-as-failure in SW rule 
>>languages) and I would agree that a tendency to 
>>incorporate assumed computational states into 
>>the formalisms is a danger which requires 
>>constant effort to resist; but so far we have 
>>managed reasonably well in the SW standards. I 
>>still feel optimistic.
>>It is important however to emphasise that 
>>ontology sharing is likely to be pretty simple 
>>stuff: its not the general AI problem. The 
>>optimism stems from the belief that even quite 
>>'simple' stuff (from an AI perspective) is 
>>likely to have large utility in the actual 
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Received on Monday, 22 December 2003 23:26:38 UTC

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