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Re: Social Meaning and RDF

From: Brian McBride <bwm@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Date: Thu, 06 Feb 2003 16:53:55 +0000
Message-Id: <>
To: Seth Russell <seth@robustai.net>, pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>, www-rdf-comments@w3.org

Hi Seth,

As you probably know we are in the middle of a last call process at the 
moment.  Did you mean to submit this as a last call comment, or was this 
opening a discussion with Pat?

If the latter, how would you be happy to move it to the interest list to 
keep this list clear for managing last call comments.


At 06:57 06/02/2003 -0800, Seth Russell wrote:

>Wow, that's a mouthful ... glad you said it .. especially the part about
>   "Think of RDF as more like a simple, formalized,
>    sharply defined  "natural language" for software agents, .."
>.. which is something that I have believed from the very start ... :-)
>However I continue to to troubled by:
>       And this is a real constraint, not just a form of words:
>       for example, RDF really is monotonic, and that imposes
>        some nontrivial conditions on *any* notion of RDF
>        meaning, social or otherwise. " .
>I can't seem to wrap my pee brain around the idea that this restraint is 
>useful in a nonmonotonic social world where truths are always popping in 
>and out of existance.   From a layman's perspective could you elaborate on 
>what this restraint really entails ?  How should we think about this as we 
>are reading and writing RDF assertions ?
>I'm looking for answers to cases like this one:
>AgentA pubilishes an ontology where "Birds type FlyingThings".
>AgentB publishes and ontology where "Penguins type Birds" and "Penguins 
>type NotFlyingThings".
>AgentC reads both ontologies adding the entailment "Penguins type 
>FlyingThings" according to the MT.
>How is AgentD to remove the contradiction by communicating  to the 
>aggregated ontonlgy in RDF ?
>If this is impossible (and I believe that it is), then how can RDF even be 
>used for aggregating knowledge?
>... my previous readings on this topic are  here:
>Seth Russell
>--- in response to this context  ----
>pat hayes wrote:
>>Peter, you and I both have a background in AI/KR, so I think I know where 
>>you are coming from. We both have been steeped in the need to avoid the 
>>gensym fallacy and the concomitant dangers of thinking there is more in 
>>one's KR than there really is there, and the use of an MT to provide the 
>>needed rigor to resist such errors. But that is all to do with modelling 
>>belief: representing the private mental state of a believing agent. The 
>>SW really is a different situation. RDF isn't just going to be used by 
>>agents to think private thoughts with, it's not a Fodorian Language of 
>>Thought; if anything, its more like a language for agents to talk to one 
>>another with. You know the classic 'grounding problem' for formal KR 
>>semantic theories? Well, RDF in use is grounded by its surrounding 
>>context of use, and it may be only a small part of something much larger, 
>>which is representing other information in other ways. Think of RDF as 
>>more like a simple, formalized, sharply defined "natural language" for 
>>software agents, something whose chief function is for communication, not 
>>for thinking with; and then observe that the software agents are also 
>>working in a context which involves human and social 'agents'. We really 
>>do not know what aspects of meaning might arise in the uses of RDF in 
>>such contexts, and we don't really need to know: but we DO need to say, 
>>normatively, that whatever they are, they ought to at least *respect* the 
>>minimal constraints on meaning described by the formal MT, so that the 
>>use of inference processes which depend on these constraints does not 
>>destroy or distort these social or contextual aspects of meaning. And 
>>this is a real constraint, not just a form of words: for example, RDF 
>>really is monotonic, and that imposes some nontrivial conditions on *any* 
>>notion of RDF meaning, social or otherwise.
>>>, and thus could easily create documents holding the
>>>organization liable for just about any imaginable consequence.
>>The liability would be determined by the same social/commercial/legal 
>>rules and conventions that govern normal human intercourse already. The 
>>point at issue is only that the use of RDF inference somewhere in the 
>>overall process should not be seen as cancelling or nullifying the normal 
>>machinery of human communication (including communication via the Web.) 
>>So RDF entailment can't possibly create new liabilities out of a vacuum, 
>>but it can transmit liabilities which would have been present anyway. You 
>>can't hide from your liabilities by saying: the formal RDF inferences 
>>cancelled all that social stuff. Seems fair enough to me.
>>>In this
>>>case I would have no choice but to tell Lucent Technologies not to deploy
>>>any RDF applications.
>>Well, that would be Lucent's loss, but I think you would be over-reacting.
Received on Thursday, 6 February 2003 11:53:05 UTC

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