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[ontolog] Re: Knowledge Representation/Access

To: soul-talk@xxxxxxxx, Chris Dent <cdent@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, ubl-ontolog@xxxxxxxx
From: "Peter P. Yim" <yimpp@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 08:10:50 -0700
Message-id: <3D1C7C7A.71E41C30@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Great post, Chris - a most wonderful synthesis! Can't help myself forwarding 
this to other pals.
Tx. -ppy    (01)

===    (02)

Subject:   Re: Knowledge Representation/Access
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2002 23:03:23 -0500 (EST)
From: Chris Dent <cdent@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To:  <ba-unrev-talk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>    (03)

Elaborating on why (I think) knowledge access structures are far more important 
that knowledge
representation formalisms.    (04)

There's a lot of context for this for which there isn't really space. If I seem 
to leave something
out, feel free to ask me about it. These ideas are fairly rough, as I'm trying 
to synthesize pretty
much everything I've learned in the last year or so into a simple lesson. Much 
or most of this is
opinion. As far as I can tell none of this is particularly revolutionary, it 
has all been said in
similar ways by other people in other places.    (05)

It is common in the information science field (that's the course of study I'm 
on at the moment) to
categorize aspects of the human comprehension and communication of signal as 
data, information,
knowledge and wisdom. What these things are is an open debate, and rests in the 
land of religion,
but a model I like goes like this: the four are arranged as a pyramid with data 
on the bottom,
information next, then knowledge, then wisdom.    (06)

Data is essentially perceived phenomena.    (07)

Information is data which has been placed in context or identified as having 
pattern. Facts.    (08)

Knowledge is the discovery of new perspective through the synthesis of 
information. It is
considered by some to be contained in individuals only, but the notion of 
institutional memory or
knowledge throws this into doubt. It is the multi-faceted lens through which we 
see the world.    (09)

Wisdom is an ethical perspective, a distillation of knowledge that has value 
for a community.    (010)

Learning can be thought of as a process of gathering data, using learned 
perspectives to make it
information, synthesizing the information into knowledge.    (011)

An adjustment in the view of this model reveals it to be a dynamic model.  One 
person's knowledge
can be someone else's information, from which they may create knowledge.    (012)

Okay, that's the stage. The conclusion I make is that knowledge generation is a 
synthetic, creative
and perception altering process using information, all kinds of information, as 
a source of fuel.    (013)

I conceive of knowledge generation as a process of accretion. We start with 
some small concepts and
gather new learning about them to form greater capacity to perceive. Sometimes 
concepts collide and
we have the paradigm shift that educators love.    (014)

I do _not_ think of knowledge generation as part of the scientific method. The 
scientific method is
for proving or disproving recently generated knowledge. Knowledge creation 
might be considered
hypothesis generation, except frequently we accept our knowledge without 
question, trusting the
analogous process which has brought us to new knowledge.    (015)

Formal knowledge representations, by their nature, are closed systems and thus 
not knowledge at
all. Some claim to be able to represent all things, but if they are in fact 
complete and precise
languages they are, to me, by definition, resistant to synthesis. 
Interpretations of those people
who dig them suggests they like them for precision in the processing of facts. 
Knowledge is not
facts. Knowledge is interpretation (of all sorts of stuff, including facts).    (016)

That's problem one: formal knowledge representations are not what they think 
they are. Problem two
is a simple question of usability and distribution of power, and leads directly 
into the
conclusion.    (017)

Knowledge generation is a process of gathering and comparing. To effectively 
gather and compare one
needs access to a lot of information. Human discourse is not a strict formal 
(although we could argue that language is in some ways a formal representation 
because it exists in
social space, but that's a different discussion) so in order for it to be used 
in a formal
representative system it needs to be translated to the new representation. 
There's no way to
correctly automate this (with computers) and I don't think there ever will be.    (018)

This is because computers can _only_ work with formal representations and 
translating human
discourse is an intepretive or comparative or (if I'm getting the word right) 
analogous process.    (019)

Getting an army of people to translate discourse to a formal representation 
would be a huge
process. Some might think it worthwhile. I don't. Here's why:    (020)

It is presumably possible to declare, within a subset of the population, that 
henceforth we will
attempt to communicate with formal representations so we might engage in an 
orgy of precision.
Unfortunately this won't work very well:    (021)

  - formal representations must be learned
  - formal representations are hard to use
  - formal representations are not very expressive or persuasive
  - formal representations exist for inference not communication    (022)

In addition to being hard to use, attempting to use formal representations for 
communication raises
questions about elitism.    (023)

But most importantly: while a computer can easily be instructed to make 
inferences from a formal
representation a human can't easily read them and thus can't do much in the way 
of knowledge
generation. Yes, they can establish fact, but that's not the same thing 
(although it is an
important thing).    (024)

Also, discourse exists to convince. Communication is an art. Facility with the 
language, especially
nuance, makes the art. Precision is antithetical to nuance. Nuance creates 
intepretive resonances
in the receiver which may cause them to adjust the perspective.    (025)

Formal representations are important in the way they can augment a human trying 
to make decisions.
In a collaborative knowledge environment they are a crucial part of the picture 
but not the crucial
part. [believe he meant  "... but not the picture." -ppy]    (026)

As was made evident to me from the discussion on the portreview list, failed 
collaboration is the
result of an inability of people to reach a shared change in perspective. A 
change in perspective
is new knowledge. Here on the bootstrap lists the underlying motivation is 
solving complex and
urgent problems. The belief is that through collaboration and augmentation we 
can make progress on
problems that unaided we can not address.    (027)

Addressing information (or knowledge if you choose to use that term) is the key 
to creating
knowledge. In order for me to learn a new thing I need to be able to compare 
some stuff. Likewise,
in order for me to convince you, or for us reach a consensual new perspective, 
we need to share
information, evaluate it, place it in context, and synthesize it. At the same 
time, we can be more
effective if we can easily discover that we are treading covered ground.    (028)

So, whether the knowledge (actually information) is stored in a formal 
representation or in human
discourse being able to access it in effective ways is the crucial key to 
collaboration.    (029)

Chris Dent  <cdent@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>  http://www.burningchrome.com/~cdent/
"Mediocrities everywhere--now and to come--I absolve you all! Amen!"  -Salieri, 
in Peter Shaffer's
Amadeus    (030)

===    (031)

On Wed, 26 Jun 2002, Jack Park wrote:    (032)

> At 04:21 PM 6/26/2002 -0500, Chris Dent wrote:
> >Earlier today I decided that knowledge access structures are far more
> >important than knowledge representation formalisms. Access helps to
> >generate new theory while avoiding repetition.
> >
> >(Formal information representations is another cup of tea entirely.)
> Chris,
> Having nicely sidestepped the personal labels ascribed to you, you finally
> opened up a great area for discourse.  So, I relabeled the thread.
> You said: "Earlier today I decided that knowledge access structures are far
> more important..."
> In the context of unrev, I don't see where that happened.  I see hints of
> it on the PORT list.  So, let me ask you to elaborate.
> Thanks,
> Jack    (033)

An archive of the [ubl-ontolog] postings can be found
at http://ubl.cim3.org/lists/ubl-ontolog/    (034)
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