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Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantic Web shortcomings [was Re: ANN: GoodRelation

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Ed Barkmeyer <edbark@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 11:12:44 -0400
Message-id: <48A44B6C.4080100@xxxxxxxx>
Ron Wheeler wrote:
> I am not sure about the value of picking winners and losers.    (01)

Well, if you don't, you spend more than half the funding on proposals 
and meetings and position papers and events like the Summit, none of 
which are _results_.    (02)

> I think that too much focus is on words and not enough on software 
> engineering.
> What I want are better tools for building applications that are based on 
> the concepts behind the semantic web.    (03)

I think this means "I'm not that interested in finding documents; I want 
decision support tools based on inferencing."    (04)

> I would be happy if there were applications that actually could allow a 
> SME to easily describe the relationships between things and tools that 
> would let application developers build user friendly applications that 
> could draw reasonable conclusions based on the relationships.    (05)

IMHO, that application of AI technologies is almost unrelated to the 
intent of the Semantic Web.  And it seems to me that this is what 
"knowledge engineering" vintage 1990 was about -- decision support.  So 
I would prefer not to confuse the Semantic Web with other applications 
of AI.  (Others would no doubt prefer to confuse them, so as to enhance 
their probability of getting funding.)    (06)

And the supporting AI technologies themselves are not so far advanced 
since 1990.  (I'm not convinced that description logics are a great leap 
forward for anything other than information searches.)  What we do have 
now is machines that are 200 times faster with searchable memories that 
are 1000 times larger, and that enables AI technologies that were 
impractical in 1990 to become useful for real decision support tools.    (07)

> I would like a tool that will make it easy to build simulations and 
> serious games based on simple scenarios added to a base ontology that 
> describes a fair amount of the universe.    (08)

And there lies the problem -- the technology is useless without the 
information base.    (09)

But whose job is it to build the model of a fair amount of the universe? 
  No one gets a Ph.D. for axiomatizing accepted knowledge, unless s/he 
does so in a way that demonstrates some unusual reasoning capability, 
which means that it can't be used by the commonly used reasoners.  We 
prefer to grant Ph.D.s for even more technology that is useless because 
there is no information base.    (010)

You can start with Pease's SUO or the Cyc SUO, but those are models of 
the universe from 50000 feet, which are not directly useful for any kind 
of decision support.  And if you take any two efforts at useful derived 
ontologies, they are likely to be inconsistent with each other.    (011)

Getting the axiomatic ontologies in place _is_ the great task remaining 
before us.  But this Forum and I have the same problem -- we all talk 
about it instead of doing it. ;-)    (012)

-Ed    (013)

Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
National Institute of Standards & Technology
Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694    (014)

"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
  and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."    (015)

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