W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > semantic-web@w3.org > December 2005

Re: How will the semantic web emerge

From: Frank Manola <fmanola@acm.org>
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 11:21:41 -0500
Message-ID: <43A43B15.7020607@acm.org>
To: Joshua Allen <joshuaa@microsoft.com>
CC: semantic-web@w3.org

Joshua Allen wrote:
>>or not.  Re "simply ignore the dictionary and talk to each other",
> 
> this
> 
>>is a bit simpler if there's a human in the loop than for strictly
>>machine-to-machine isn't it?
> 
> 
> I find it interesting that many of the KR researchers have moved to
> "machine learning".  There is one approach, which says that
> communication (human-human or machine-machine) must follow a "standard"
> or "contract".  There is another, which says that communication is an
> organic process of learning.  Much interesting machine-machine
> communication these days is done through machine learning rather than
> taxonomy/ontology/contract.
> 

I've no problem with the idea that machine learning approaches are 
interesting and are worth further development (there's been some 
interesting work on protocols for negotiation between agents using 
different ontologies as well).  Nevertheless, although "much" 
machine-machine communication may be done through machine learning, a 
whole heck of a lot more is done through "contracts" (mutual agreements 
between the interacting software components).  That doesn't necessarily 
mean it's the best way forward, but it is certainly the way things are now.

I frankly think as the Semantic Web moves forward, we'll see a range of 
all sorts of approaches, including folksonomy-like approaches, 
ontology-based ones, and mixtures, with machine-learning thrown in too, 
just as we see a similar range of approaches used in different human 
interactions, with some communities, in some situations, applying more 
rigorous approaches than others, in other situations.

Nevertheless, I think it important to remember that a lot of people over 
the years have found the development of various 
taxonomies/ontologies/schemas/contracts to be useful, not as academic or 
"political" exercises, but to get practical work done.  And they 
developed those "contracts", etc. in the context of voluntary activies, 
not under some top-down pressure (unless you count top-down pressure to 
get work done).  Certainly there are disadvantages to the use of 
"contracts".  But citing them doesn't contradict the fact that, at least 
to some people, the "contracts" are *useful*, and in fact may still be 
the best tool for the job (depending, of course, on what the job is). 
Citing the disadvantages of "contracts" doesn't mean that alternative 
proposals don't have disadvantages of their own (which may disqualify 
them from use, again, depending on what the job is).

--Frank
Received on Saturday, 17 December 2005 16:20:38 GMT

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