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Re: [ontolog-forum] {Disarmed} Reality and Truth

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Barker, Sean (UK)" <Sean.Barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 11:24:03 +0100
Message-id: <E18F7C3C090D5D40A854F1D080A84CA4038B42@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

A day is a long time in the life of this thread, but to follow on, (by
going in a different direction)-    (01)

Imagine I go into my green grocer, which has a robot serving behind the
counter. I ask for "three green apples please". The robot finds the draw
called apples, uses a colour chart and camera to pick out green ones,
and counts three - I assume that counting is built into the hardware
(load accumulator(3) decrement, jump on zero for anyone who programmed
in machine code).    (02)

Is it true that the robot understood what I said? If understanding means
having a concept of three green apples, then no. If it means behaving in
the appropriate way (giving me three green apples) then yes. IMHO, the
argument on whether Waclaw is 73% tall is a statement about certainty or
truthfulness is the argument about whether language models the world
(describes pictures of the world) or whether it talks about it (divides
the world into essentially arbitrary classes based on the behavioural
needs of the language users). You may guess that I am firmly in the
latter camp.    (03)

In terms of defining an ontology, the latter view puts a focus on the
criteria for discriminating between classes. That is, given an ontology,
which category do I put something in - or better, can I guarantee that
every user will make the same classification decision. If this cannot be
guaranteed, the semantic web is dead, since it will mean that users will
find it to be unreliable.    (04)

In data exchange, one of the recurring problems is to map local
terminology into that of the exchange standard. ISO 10303-239 (Product
Life Cycle Support) provides some forty subtypes of the (abstract)
concept product across the whole manufacturing lifecycle, including
part-design, part-occurrence, assembly, drawing (of a part), raw
material, and consumable (e.g. fuel, packaging). Discrimination criteria
include the configuration management process and the process stage with
respect to the organization (e.g. a car is the end-product for a
manufacturer but a consumable in films such as Blues Brothers). That is,
classification is about the behaviour of the organization. In an
industrial context, misclassification is a serious cost issue, and can
also prove career limiting if you wrote the data exchange system.    (05)

The problem of classifying product types on the basis of "the thing"
classified is relatively intractable, since the terms like product,
part, etc are heavily overloaded, and almost every organization uses the
terms differently and often in contradictory ways - indeed, sometimes
the meaning changes from department to department.    (06)

Therefore, the discussion of whether Waclaw is tall depends on what you
are going to do with it. It may be important in my gran's cottage, since
he needs to be warned to mind his head on the low door frames, but at
73% tall, he probably won't need a higher desk to meet Display Screen
Equipment rules.    (07)

Sean Barker
0117 302 8184    (08)

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