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Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation Ontology [was SemanticWeb shortcomings]

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Christopher Spottiswoode" <cms@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 2008 16:40:25 +0200
Message-id: <04c901c906c0$855be750$0100a8c0@Dev>
This issue of grounding is another really key matter:
(My comments interspersed below)    (01)

Len Yabloko responds to John Sowa:
> >
>>I suggested the term UFO as a joke, but we should recognize
>>that the problem of symbol grounding is significant.  And we
>>should note that there are three methods of grounding the
>>symbols we use:
>>  1. Direct experience with the referents by perception and
>> action.    (02)

... which is impossible because of the theory-laden nature of
perception.  Ways 2 & 3 therefore worse!  Therefore I strongly
subscribe to Len's final paragraph below, or at least my own
reading of it.    (03)

>>  2. Indirect connections to experience by associations
>> created by patterns of words that are more directly grounded.
>>  3. Communication by means of natural languages with other
>> people whose grounding for the symbols is more direct than
>> ours.
>>The issue of grounding the symbols used in AI was a hot topic
>>back in the 1980s with lots of spilled ink about Searle's
>>Chinese room.  The people who are working on robots are
>>finally answering the symbol grounding questions by connecting
>>symbols to the robots' systems of perception and action.
> I believe the problem of symbol grounding needs to be
> addressed not in it's absolute form - connecting sensory-motor
> feedback to symbolic computing - the way robotics does, but in
> relativistic form - as symbolic scoping. Perception does not
> have to operate with physical reality, although feedback is
> essential part of it. The origin of problem of symbol
> grounding is attempts to define meaning within machine, which
> becomes a moot point when considering fusion of information
> pathways that occurs today. Today this problem needs to be
> formulate upside-down: as problem of creating ground for
> bridging disconnected areas of symbolic computation. Instead
> of grounding meaning (which was the ultimate failure of AI) we
> should scope it according to present common ground.
>>In any case, I was never really worried about symbol grounding
>>because people have been using ungrounded books for millennia.
>>Some books link the words to pictures, but the main method for
>>grounding words is to take advantage of the human methods of
>>communication (point #3 above).
> Culture is form of symbol grounding formulated in relative
> terms - as common ground. There was never a reason to worry
> about absolute one, unless you are developing robots.
> Unfortunately culture is subject to crisis, - not merely an
> evolution. And it depends on carrier media. Books no longer
> provide sufficient basis for main stream culture, nor does
> natural language communication. Perhaps evolution of natural
> language was a natural response to previous crisis of culture
> and communication. But now we face a new challenge for symbol
> grounding at yet grander scope including machines and
> electronic media.
>>And I would also note that the *most* frequent method of
>>symbol grounding that people use is based on communication
>>with other people by means of natural language.  That is why
>>comments are essential for telling us how to use any formal
>>notation.  The ideal comments are ones that can be stated in a
>>controlled natural language that a computer can relate to the
>>formalism automatically.
> In my view - "comments" in conventional sense is no longer
> sufficient to maintain common ground, the same way as writing
> letters is no longer sufficient to stay in touch with the
> world. More generally conversation as a form of communication
> is outdated - we leave in the age of interaction. Luckily we
> can still keep track of it, but comments are outpaced by
> transactions, which is a new way of communication.
> So I strongly believe that new common ground must relate
> symbols in media to transactions taking place in that media.
> Our role as carriers of culture is to accelerate natural
> process of semiosis by enriching semantics of transaction
> until it is on par with natural language and can transcend it.    (04)

As I intimated in my comment near the beginning, that looks just
right to me.  As you will see in a later instalment (not the 5th
which is still coming next), this is the scene of "pillar 1" of
MACK as set out in the 1st instalment at this point:
http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/2008-02/msg00277.html#nid012.    (05)

But more immediately it is also the scene of the "RE"s or
"Realworld Equivalents", with the ever-present but usually
implicit "deemed" qualification, which I have already alluded to
and will feature in some detail in the 5th instalment (still
coming...).    (06)

Len, your invocation of interactions and transactions also fits
nicely with the emphasis on the role of the market in MACK's
philosophical picture.  The market provides an immediate context
for groundings - common groundings! - that people by their
actions deem adequate, whether from a demand or a supply point
of view.  And the 'moving targets' or would-be "groundings" in
that scene well befit any picture aiming to deal adequately with
the complexity of reality.    (07)

But now that I have contributed to this "Foundation Ontology"
thread, I have to ask in what way this "FO" is seen as different
from the "SUO" that the SUO list has spent so much time on.  I
have already declared my philosophical (and obviously
sociological) sympathy with Pat Cassidy's quest, but though that
does imply my general support for Pat's project, such a position
does not answer the FO/SUO question.    (08)

Clearly, John, by creating an FO thread on the SUO list you do
seem to be declaring that there is some not insignificant
overlap...?  So what saving grace would the former have which
the latter could not find?    (09)

I feel rather dumb asking those questions, as surely the answers 
should already have been evident in the thread and its 
antecedents.  But to save me - and maybe others... - the 
research and review, are there any short and easy answers?    (010)

Christopher    (011)

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