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Re: A plea for peace. was: RE: DAML+OIL (March 2001) released: a correction

From: Aaron Swartz <aswartz@swartzfam.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 23:08:41 -0500
To: pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu>
CC: RDF Logic <www-rdf-logic@w3.org>
Message-ID: <B7012BF7.95D4%aswartz@swartzfam.com>
pat hayes <phayes@ai.uwf.edu> wrote:

> Yes, it does. I see what you mean (and I think agree with you), but
> you need to distinguish between *referring* to something and *naming*
> it. Thats my point: we can REFER to things like the nth grain of sand
> on a beach, but that isn't the same as giving that grain of sand a
> NAME. That requires that we have some way to distinguish the named
> thing from the other things like it.

Thanks for clearing this up for me. I hadn't heard the terms distinguished
before. I always thought that the act of referring required a name, if even
a temporary one. (I find it so funny when arguments about naming boil down
to the fact we use different names for things.

> And in any case, HOW do we ask them? I have no idea who owns most the
> URIs I see every day, or how to find out who they are.

I agree -- and this is what we need to resolve.

> So you think that because an English word appears on a web page it is
> somehow rendered more exact and clear in its meaning, and that
> meaning is somehow removed from society? I think the only thing I can
> say at this point is, get a life.

No, you're exactly right -- this would be nonsense. All I was saying is that
we were able to resolve things down to the person, or entity as opposed to
leaving them up to the changing blob of the group. Of course, if someone is
imprecise with their wording then what are we to do. (Although I still need
to work on the life bit... ;-))

> Not of their own will, of course, but nothing turns on that notion.
> We will in the near future see refrigerators which have URIs and
> maintain up-to-date information on them about their (the
> refrigerator's) operating condition, dates of service, etc.. This is
> already routine for some more expensive pieces of equipment. Never
> mind about 'will'; the point is that the machine is the *source* of
> the information.

Sure, but the definition of these resources was programmed into the
refrigerator before they left the factory. For each fridge, the resources
will be essentially the same, except one will be operating condition of
fridge 100101 and the other is of 12243.

> They are programmed by human beings (well, most of them are. Some may
> have evolved by themselves) but they are certainly not RUN by human
> beings, and they do not have human beings at the top of the chain of
> command. They operate autonomously; you know, like computers do?.

My computer has no human being at the top of its chain of command? I hope
not, if so, I better turn it off before it starts committing crimes in my
name! ;-)

>> The reason we seem to keep going in this loop is
>> because I don't see what's better.
> Its not a question of what is better: it is simply getting the facts
> of the case straight. Machines DO communicate with each other across
> the Web, and draw conclusions, take actions, etc., on their own
> initiatives and without consulting human beings. RDF and DAML+OIL are
> motivated by the need to have these machines convey useable
> information to one another and be able to draw, check and otherwise
> process conclusions from formally described information. No natural
> langauge is used, and no human thoughts intervene in this process.

Machines can communicate all they want and do a ton of stuff based on that
communication -- I agree, and I find it quite useful. However, I have never
seen a machine invent a concept or understand a concept on its own. Instead,
it follows a continuous process of "bootstrapping" -- pulling itself up from
the terms with which it was programmed with up to terms which hadn't been
invented when it was turned on.

Still, we must draw a distinction between the fact that it can process these
terms (which it can undoubtedly can, as it can do all sorts of
processing-type things as you suggest above) and the fact that it can
*understand* these terms, for understanding is a difficult subject which
people cannot even agree on, but to which no machine has even really come

>> I know of no language that conveys "knowledge" to machines.
> Read an AI textbook on 'knowledge representation' to come up to speed on this.

I draw a distinction between information and knowledge that you don't seem
to follow. I've heard about a lot of stuff in AI, and it's all fascinating
ideas, but I'm still waiting to see it in practice. Certainly if my computer
was able to comprehend all this knowledge, I think we should be in a much
different place than we are now.

>> If I'm missing something, please tell me what this powerful language is. I'd
>> love to get my hands on it.
> It is broadly called 'formal logic', but it comes in many flavors.

And formal logic was created without human language? I doubt so. How was
formal logic explained to you? Not using formal logic, I'd suggest.

 - Aaron "The AI Heretic" Swartz

[ Aaron Swartz | me@aaronsw.com | http://www.aaronsw.com ]
Received on Tuesday, 17 April 2001 00:08:51 UTC

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