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[ontolog-forum] electric sheep

To: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>, "Pat Hayes" <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Barker, Sean (UK)" <Sean.Barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 10:28:45 +0100
Message-id: <E18F7C3C090D5D40A854F1D080A84CA44CD095@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

To continue on from (was ckae)    (01)

        I go into my local greengrocer, and ask the robot assistant for
"three green apples, please". it goes off to the drawer marked apples,
checks the colour against a colour chart, and counts out three (I assume
Decrement accumulator Jump on Zero is built into the machine code). From
the point of pragmatics, so far so good. In this description, I have no
need to ask about semantics, or the concepts the robot is using.    (02)

        If I look at the question of "how did it understand me?", I
could propose a simple syntactic solution - the robot expects sentences
of the form <quantity> [<qualifier>] <product>.    (03)

        I could do something a little more complex, and add a dictionary
which, among other things, includes the information that a word is one
of {quantifier | qualifier | product* | noise}. (Is this an ontology?)
This probably allows the robot to be more flexible, for example, to deal
with requests such as "A bottle of your best claret, my good man". I
could adduce more complex approaches, and perhaps replace the robot by a
self programming soft machine, which will happy argue semantics with the
next man.    (04)

        At what level of complexity do I need to start concerning myself
with Semantics rather that just Pragmatics? At what point would one say
the robot "understands concepts", rather than behaves according to
particular pragmatics?     (05)

        I should add that as we develop increasing complex autonomous
systems, we need to create architectures that provide proper separation
of concerns, so this is primarily a question about engineering, rather
than philosophy.    (06)

*ISO 10303 fans may dispute whether "an apple" is a product (from
product identification), a product concept (from configuration
management), a product classification (taken from a separate ontology)
or a resource_by_specification (resource management) - given the
intention is to supply apples, I would advocate the last.    (07)

Sean Barker
Bristol, UK    (08)

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represent an official company view.    (09)

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