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Re: [ontolog-forum] What is "understanding"

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2008 08:27:18 -0400
Message-id: <47F37BA6.5050506@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Sergei and Pat,    (01)

At the level of detail of these notes, I mostly agree with Sergei.
There's much more to discuss, but this is enough for now.    (02)

SN> Automating acquisition of knowledge of the kind we are talking
> about (that is, not only knowledge about co-occurrences of
> textual strings, however sophisticated) is a very interesting
> problem.    (03)

Yes, indeed.  And I believe it's important to automate much
more in order to achieve something close to real understanding.
In fact, I believe that learning or acquisition is central to
language understanding.  Language is not a static system that
can be handled by a fixed grammar, vocabulary, and ontology,
except in artificially frozen special cases (although many of
those frozen cases may be very useful for narrow problems.)    (04)

PC> ... the pieces of code what I will now refer to as 'Lexical
> Experts' can include and access any of those tactics that could
> be useful - and do it in such a highly modular way that from one
> LE (for one word, phrase, sentence, generic concept, or syntactic
> construction) to another LE there may be little in common in the
> methods that they use and no person in common among the individuals
> who contribute to their construction.    (05)

I prefer the term 'lexical expert' to 'word expert', primarily
because it makes a break with the WEP approach.  But the word 'code'
bothers me because it sounds too procedural (and that was my major
complaint about Small's version).  The dictionaries used by people
are primarily declarative, and I don't believe it is necessary or
desirable to encode lexical information in a procedural form.    (06)

PC> But I think that the language will have to include the basic
> concept meanings associated with an ontology that contains
> within it the meanings associated with at least the word
> inventory of the Longman's defining vocabulary.    (07)

I have no objection to including that much in a basic language
package.  But I would emphasize the need for dynamic methods that
could learn much more without requiring a linguist, logician, or
knowledge engineer to spoon feed the internal formats.    (08)

John    (09)

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