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Re: [ontolog-forum] Building on common ground

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "Len Yabloko" <lenya@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2008 22:22:40 +0200
Message-id: <0abf01c89111$a58ea640$0100a8c0@Dev>
Len, thank you for your reply.    (01)

> I have been following discussions on this forum since it began
> years ago. It often is an interesting reading, but its mission
> is still not clear to me. Lately it looks like the mission is to
> seek out the ultimate truth about the World, while proving at
> the same time that this mission is impossible. I see a lot of
> argument for a sake of argument. Without a clear focus any
> discussion becomes a spiritual exercise with some elements of
> rationality,- in other words: modern form of alchemy. I think
> that is how outside observers like myself see it: may be one day
> one of these discussions will result in something by sheer power
> of accident and human imagination. In a meantime I have not seen
> a single thread that lived up to its subject. Let's hope this
> one is going to be an exception.    (02)

Well, this thread's theme will never be exhausted!  Clearly,
though, MACK's "CK" insistence places it right in the middle of
that scene.    (03)

Your hope also prompts me to repeat my recently-expressed hope,
now at
in its paragraphs numbered 3 & 8, that Pat Cassidy will further
explore his long-thread-throttled intuition that the very
possibility of communication should imply some useful level of
ontology commonality, syntactic and even apparent conceptual
mismatches notwithstanding.    (04)

My own view, very non-Platonic or non-Pythagorian, is that the
very definition of abstraction is surely commonality deemed to
exist between situations, whether between communicating partners
or between moments of one person.  And after all, intension and
extension should best closely match!  (And it is in the end
immaterial if the commonality / abstraction is discovered or
invented, ex post facto or a priori, by induction or deduction or
even abduction.)    (05)

Sure, all those generalities might appear remote and useless, but
I do not at all see a useful outcome of such reflection as your
"mission impossible".  Quite the contrary, I have already started
to point out how MACK embodies and builds on such generalities,
and you will see much more of that in my planned future posts to
this list.  That whole scene is even a fundamental feature of The
Mainstream and its conception of CK.    (06)

So the more this forum can consider your and Pat C's "common
ground" quest, the better it will understand MACK!    (07)

>>> "It appears to me that this discussion started from the need
>>> to have a common ground that is more solid than one afforded
>>> by established processes. It is clear from everything said so
>>> far that there is no way to establish a universal ground, even
>>> when all efforts are made to remove ambiguities, such as the
>>> case with mathematics. Perhaps it is what Pifagor (or was it
>>> someone else?) meant when he said something like "... give me
>>> a ground and I will overturn the World". So what we should be
>>> looking for is at best a temporary grounding of our ideas and
>>> efforts. This is what Kuhn's paradigm is all about.
>>Though it may not always seem so from my scribblings, your quest
>>for a "more solid common ground" is very much what I target with
>>"The Mainstream" as I have gradually been broaching that
>>stupendously pretentious notion in my various posts to this
>>forum during the past few months.  Sure, the many angles I have
>>been taking may look like random waffling, but there is some
>>method in the madness of taking chance prompts from the forum.
>>There is surely no nice neat logical sequence to any new
>>paradigm.    (08)

> In my experience, trying to create new paradigm is futile
> exercise - paradigms are emergent phenomena, or more precisely -
> epi-phenomena (side effects of creativity). The focus of
> innovation should not be a paradigm, but rather specific
> theoretical or practical objective, call it simply
> "application".    (09)

Yes, precisely, so do note that the second of the three "pillars"
of MACK (see my "MACK basics" series' 1st instalment, now at
is what it calls an AOS or Application Operating System.    (010)

>>As would-be common ground The Mainstream as depicted is
>>clearly a process, not a foundation or a final construction.
>>But Kuhn's paradigm shifts are merely the more spectacular
>>manifestations of "evolution as a series of mini-revolutions".
>>(Who can tell us who said that first?)
>>That latter view well represents the effect of the "Koestler
>>creativity" I have just introduced in my "3rd instalment" (see
>>its item 7), in recognition of Arthur Koestler's wide-ranging
>>analysis yet pointed conclusion in his 1964 book, The Act of
>>I am busy building up the picture of the entire operation of
>>Information Systems as a continuously creative process, though
>>one which people - ordinary users - will be able to help adapt
>>towards better meeting people's needs.
> What people's needs are you trying to meet? - that is the
> question.    (011)

MACK the mere architecture addresses the need for people to be
able to address their own needs collaboratively.  As my recent 3rd
instalment quoted Heinz Zemanek, "An architect does not tell
people how to live, he creates an environment in which people may
live their own lives creatively."    (012)

Then the Democratic Web as driven by the MACK AOS is intended as a
marketplace or market medium, "helping people simplify complexity
together", so precisely that, if you wish, is the real need
addressed, and it is a rather all-encompassing one!    (013)

> In my view the need for symbolic grounding is very clear: if
> some application is to be constructed using symbolic
> computation, then the symbols better be grounded or else
> application will collapse shortly after it is constructed (if it
> is ever constructed) -this is what happens with software
> applications.    (014)

Yes, though many of my recent posts have alluded to various
application-robustness features unique to MACK, I have still to
get down to the required detail.  The coming 4th instalment will
make a good start.    (015)

>>> So the question should be (correct me if I am wrong): what are
>>> the mechanisms available to us for better grounding. Now I
>>> really sound like an engineer.
>>Yes, fortunately you do.  John Sowa too tends to claim that
>>engineer's ground, on this and the SUO forum.  Indeed, the more
>>of us the better!
>>And my answer to your question is precisely MACK, The Mainstream
>>Architecture for Common Knowledge, with its notion of the
>>conceptual Form, implemented by a MACK-compliant AOS or
>>Application Operating System for helping people create,
>>manipulate, fine-tune and extend CK or Common Knowledge into the
>>many provisionally appropriate niches for it at every level of
>>abstraction or refinement.
> In my experience software architecture should be bottom-up and
> scale-free. I am yet to see how MACK can address most basic
> software architecture requirements, and then achieve high level
> of abstraction required by Common Knowledge - this is where you
> need a method which would allow aggregation of simple predicates
> into complex concepts. How do you propose to do that?    (016)

Wow, that's a wonderful question, especially coming from the
author of www.ontospace.net or rather O(n^2)Space!  My answer has
two very important and counter-balancing thrusts:    (017)

1.  Most of my coming 4th instalment addresses precisely the
accumulation of simple predicates into rich descriptions and
applications.  As you point out, that is essential.  But it is
also a complicating process, and one where many an IT designer has
been trapped in failure or immobility.    (018)

2.  So that is of course where MACK, having been designed "to help
people simplify complexity together", has many simplifying
features, largely capturing and implementing natural techniques
such as the abstraction mentioned above with its various levels of
subtyping.  But a technique which should particularly please you
as O(n^2)Space author is already illustrated in my just-posted 3rd
instalment's Customer-Product-Productname-Word join:  it does
exactly your kind of cutting down of semantic distance which
results in more direct relevance!  We even have a colloquial name
for it: "scrunching", from the way it reaches out into logical
space and compresses it into more directly-relevant joined
dimensions, in effect simplifying by abstraction once again.  My
coming 4th or 5th instalment will go into that in more detail.    (019)

>>There is as yet no such implemented AOS, but with my present
>>series of posts to this forum I am trying to awake interest and
>>set up collaboration towards refining and launching a Boot AOS
>>so that the open market can bootstrap itself into full 
>>exploitation of the evident yet hitherto-hidden potential of The 
>>Mainstream and its already-ubiquitous processes.
> Nothing like that is implemented because the question above is
> not answered (to my knowledge).    (020)

Len, it seems I have not been clear on that yet:  both MACK and
the AOS Metaset have been sufficiently designed in detail for it
to be clear to me as programmer that there is no great theoretical
or programming problem remaining before such a market-boot process
can be triggered by the launch of the basically simple product
intended.  Therefore:
>>I believe such a launch, with a little help of the right kinds,
>>building on what is already coded and running, could take place
>>within one year of a team's getting to work on it.
> First, you need explain how this can be done. I am looking
> forward to that.    (021)

You'll be able to see more of that soon from my coming
instalments.  If you do not, I am sure the problem will be in my
descriptions and not in the designs, even though I have been
asking in these posts to this list for help of various kinds and
will still be asking for much more.    (022)

> --Len
Christopher    (023)

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