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Re: [ontolog-forum] Levels

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2007 13:06:52 -0500
Message-id: <45DC8A3C.3080505@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Debbie,    (01)

I agree that many kinds of writing must be very precise:    (02)

 > Patent claims, architectural specifications, legal documents
 > are only three examples.    (03)

Patent claims and legal documents are two areas where computer
processing has been attempted for many years.  The commercial
value of good NL understanding systems for either of those two
areas would be immense.  Unfortunately, they are still potentially
important, but unsolved problems for NLP.    (04)

 > Every word is necessary or it is removed. Ambiguities do not
 > stay around very long because sooner or later there is a conflict
 > and the need for a determination and explicit interpretation.
 > Interpretations are also documented and cite what they are based
 > on creating even richer records over time.    (05)

As I said in my previous note, computers are much better at detecting
ambiguities than any human (even a trained linguist or patent lawyer).
But computers don't have the background knowledge that could enable
them to resolve the ambiguity as well as humans do.    (06)

A level of precision that humans are capable of understanding is
not adequate for computer understanding.  Computers are far more
demanding because they don't have the background knowledge necessary
for "common sense".  In most cases, humans resolve the ambiguities so
quickly that they are not even aware that a different interpretation
is possible.    (07)

 > In my opinion, carefully prepared language in documents that
 > already adhere to disciplined standards make sense "ontologize"
 > first - because order is already imposed by the information itself
 > being exchanged and documented - or written and read.    (08)

I agree that such well-written documents are a good basis, but for
the foreseeable future, human assistance is necessary to translate
them to a machine-interpretable form.  An important application
of ontology is to give computers sufficient background knowledge
so that they could do a better job at resolving the ambiguities
that humans don't even notice.    (09)

Bottom line:  I believe that we can develop NLP tools that are much
better than what we currently have, and good ontologies can help us
design and build them.    (010)

I also believe that we can develop much better tools for developing
ontologies, but that is another topic.  For more on these issues,
see the slides of two talks I gave in 2006:    (011)

    Concept Mapping    (012)

    Extending semantic interoperability    (013)

John    (014)

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