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Re: Social Meaning and RDF

From: Brian McBride <bwm@hplb.hpl.hp.com>
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 14:27:06 +0000
Message-Id: <>
To: Seth Russell <seth@robustai.net>, pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>, www-rdf-comments@w3.org


This thread has gone quiet.  I'm trying to mark closed comments as 
closed.  Is this one you propose to continue, or are you satisfied and we 
can close it off?


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 Friday, 14 February 2003 09:25:57 UTC

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