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Re: [ontolog-forum] Current Semantic Web Layer pizza (was ckae)

To: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Barker, Sean (UK)" <Sean.Barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2007 09:11:37 +0100
Message-id: <E18F7C3C090D5D40A854F1D080A84CA449818E@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

        Thanks for your helpful distinction between Semantics and Pragmatics. I 
shall keep to Pragmatics in future, believing as I do that Semantics is a 
useful heuristic, but only when you know is a mistake :-).  (Is there an 
emoticon for waving a red rag at a bull?).    (01)

        The reason for raising the question about risk is precisely because of 
the need for due diligence. Due diligence is a cost, and one needs to know how 
much one needs to spend to bring the level of risk down to an acceptable level. 
Even ten years ago, a single pop rivet for an aircraft could cost as much as 
80 ($160) as opposed to, say, 50 for a 1 for domestic use, and much of the 
cost can be in certifying the supplier.    (02)

        This question could be rephrased in terms of trust (as a heuristic, one 
could take trust as the reciprocal of risk). In this case, it is trust of the 
pragmatics of a term, however a very similar question arises in the security 
world - I am also currently looking at what we would need to do to trust a grid 
computing environment to be secure.    (03)

        I agree the problem is non-trivial, which is why I asked the question, 
did you of a methodology for doing it. I guess the answer is no. That, at 
least, is a result.    (04)

Sean Barker
0117 302 8184    (05)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John F. Sowa [mailto:sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx] 
> Sent: 28 August 2007 19:22
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Cc: Barker, Sean (UK)
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Current Semantic Web Layer pizza 
> (was ckae)
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> Sean and Pat,
> You both have valid points.  To clarify the issues, I suggest 
> that we adopt some terms that are common in discussions of 
> meaning in languages, both natural and artificial:
>   - *Syntax* addresses the grammatical form of any notation,
>     independent of any question of what those forms mean.
>   - *Semantics* addresses the relationship between any
>     notation and the things or events that the notation
>     refers to.  It includes both reference (what the names
>     and variables refer to in the domain of interest) and
>     truth (whether the patterns expressed by the notation
>     correctly characterize the patterns in the domain).
>   - *Pragmatics* addresses the purpose of the notation
>     and how it relates to the behavior of the people and
>     other agents (including computers) that use the notation.
> SB>> The meaning of a computer system is always the behaviour
>  >> of the organization that uses it.
> PH> ... that is rather a stretch. The meaning IS the behavior??
>  > No, the behavior depends (in part) on the meaning: but the 
>  > meaning is what it is even if nobody acts on the information.
> That is why the word 'meaning' is confusing.  Sean is talking 
> about pragmatics, and Pat is talking about semantics.  I 
> suggest that we avoid the word 'meaning' and discuss the 
> issues in terms of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.
> SB>> If I have a collection of designs for an aircraft, a set of
>  >> orders for parts and a stock of material, I expect to 
> come in  >> the following day to have a set of appropriately 
> shaped lumps  >> of metal, not a print out saying 'the 
> machine could in theory  >> make the parts you require'.
> That is a valid goal.  But it is a matter of pragmatics (what 
> the system is supposed to do), which depends critically on 
> the semantics (what are the specified patterns for the lumps) 
> and the syntax (what is the grammar for specifying lumps).
> PH> I doubt if it is possible to quantify this or even define
>  > it reasonably, as it will depend so heavily on what use is 
>  > made of the information in the ontology.
> My revision of Pat's point:
>     I doubt if it is possible to quantify [the pragmatics] or
>     even define it reasonably, as it will depend so heavily on
>     what use is made of the [semantic] information in the ontology.
> I certainly agree that the pragmatics depends on the 
> semantics, but I also believe that it is possible to define 
> procedures that would determine the pragmatics -- i.e., how a 
> computerized machine should respond to the semantics by 
> making the desired products.
> SB>> Perhaps a more useful question is not whether the ontology
>  >> corresponds (or what ever phrase does not upset the 
> philosophers)  >> to reality, but what is the risk that I run 
> if I assume you mean  >> the same thing that I do when we use 
> a term from an ontology.
> PH> I doubt if it is possible to quantify this or even define it
>  > reasonably, as it will depend so heavily on what use is 
> made of  > the information in the ontology.
> I agree that Sean's point is important, and I agree with Pat 
> that more information (i.e., pragmatics and a lot of related 
> background about engineering practice) is needed before 
> Sean's point can be suitably defined and quantified.
> SB> Unless I can quantify these risk factors, then I will not trust
>  > the Semantic Web for anything other than low impact actions.
> I agree that engineers are expected to quantify the risk 
> factors, but the information needed to do so depends on many 
> more issues than just the ontology.
> PH> I am confident that the Sweb will survive being un-trusted
>  > by conservative engineers for a while.
> If I were a physician or an engineer who hoped to avoid a 
> malpractice suit, I would not use *anything* I found on the 
> WWW (semantic or not) without doing a great deal of "due 
> diligence" on where that data came from, how it was derived, 
> what are the previous experiences of using it, etc.
> I take my life in my hands whenever I drive my car or fly in 
> a plane, and I'm willing to continue doing so.  But there is 
> no currently available ontology (not CYC, SUMO, DOLCE, BFO, 
> or anything else I have seen so far), which I would trust 
> with my own life or anybody else's (especially if they might 
> have survivors who could sue me).
> John
>     (06)

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