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Re: "In Defense of Ambiguity"

From: Martin Hepp <martin.hepp@uibk.ac.at>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 20:09:11 +0200
Message-ID: <48765047.8020907@uibk.ac.at>
To: Ian Emmons <iemmons@bbn.com>
CC: semantic-web@w3c.org
 >Really?  In my experience, "communicating successfully" is a 
surprisingly rare thing, especially when we are talking about 
 >communicating with precision.

Well, I for my part feel that humans are able to communicate pretty well 
if you judge their ability to coordinate joint actions. Most people are 
able to agree upon a meeting place and time and actually find each 
other, and when asking a team assistant to come up with a reasonable 
traveling schedule from A to B, combining any comfortable set of train, 
plane, car or taxi, he or she will mostly be able to understand and act 

My computer is not able to understand me at that level.

I would go even further and say that ambiguity in human communication is 
the oil that makes joint action possible. Human language allows us to be 
only as specific as is necessary for a given task. Current ontology 
infrastructure requires that we reach consensus first. Human 
communication on the contrary allows us to postpone dispute and 
clarification to a later point in time in which the disagreement becomes 
relevant, if it ever gets relevant.

Maybe we have to discuss "the timing of consensus on the Semantic Web". 
I think there was a paper by Mareike Schoop and others at the MKWI 2004 
conference on respective infrastructure, but I don't find it quickly.


Ian Emmons wrote:
>> However, Hayes is still overly pessimistic about the
>> difficulties of communicating in the real world.  We humans
>> have been communicating successfully for thousands of
>> years.  It is not that difficult to shift our communication medium
>> to the World Wide Web.
> Really?  In my experience, "communicating successfully" is a 
> surprisingly rare thing, especially when we are talking about 
> communicating with precision.


martin hepp, http://www.heppnetz.de
mhepp@computer.org, skype mfhepp

Received on Thursday, 10 July 2008 18:10:02 UTC

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