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Re: [ontolog-forum] Looking forward at the past

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Mike Bennett <mbennett@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2008 18:31:28 +0100
Message-id: <48EA4B70.7080606@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Ronald,    (01)

Is the approach you describe related to the system of "Norms and 
Affordances" described by James Backhouse of the London School of 
Economics? He and some colleagues have built a semantics system called 
"NORMA" which, to my initial casual reading of it, has a similar 
approach to what you describe. It has been used to analyse encryption 
policies and the like. See e.g. "Searching for Meaning  Performatives 
and Obligations in Public Key Infrastructures" (Tseng and Backhouse 
2000), in which I now notice there are also references to your work. So 
I guess you are familiar with the NORMA work?    (02)

I see that related work also references Gibson on affordances (in D. 
Norman, "Affordances and Design", 
http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/affordances_and.html).    (03)

I looked at Backhouse's work a while ago, but I could not see how to 
relate it to other work in AI and logic, such as the works often 
referenced in here. The approach is very different, so that for example 
I could not see how you would take a model in NORMA and provide an OWL- 
or frames-based ontology containing the same material. OWL- and 
frames-based ontologies define what "is" (based on a decision by the 
modeller as to what is appropriate), whereas the affordances approach 
seems to treat everything as arising from the agency of the entity which 
experiences it, if I understand it right.    (04)

I would be intrigued as to how to relate these two bodies of work to 
each other. I was surprised not to see much reference to familiar AI 
literature in Backhouse's work. However I can't claim to have studied 
this exhaustively so perhaps I have missed something.    (05)

Best regards,    (06)

Mike Bennett    (07)

RK Stamper wrote:    (08)

> Dear Pat,
>
>  
>
> Yes, I do have an ontology that addresses the problems I raise.  
> Indeed it also leads to some interesting results in computing terms.
>
>  
>
> At its foundation is an ontology in the metaphysical sense, not in the 
> Ontolog sense.  The core ideas will appear quite alien to the Ontolog 
> community.  However, I shall try to explain but you must allow for the 
> impossibility of my anticipating all the objections you might raise.
>
>  
>
> You and I may believe in an objective reality. But I emphasise that 
> these are our separate beliefs.  Each of us can have direct knowledge 
> of only the tiny fragment of reality existing in the individual's here 
> and now. Using signs (language, gestures, pictures etc.) that stand 
> for the things known directly, we can extend our knowledge to embrace 
> distant, past and future things.  Using signs is essentially social.
>
>  
>
> Still confined to our individual here and nows, we each construct 
> images of a 4-D world that we confidently treat as the one objective 
> reality.  While "bounded in a nutshell" like Hamlet, each of us counts 
> himself "a king of infinite space".  This amazing result depends upon 
> our use of signs to form a society and share a composite view of the 
> world. 
>
>  
>
> By taking our well-founded belief in an objective reality for granted, 
> we fail to address the fundamental problem of how we have attained the 
> wonderful result that Hamlet drew to our attention. Solipsism, despite 
> its bad press, can help us find that explanation. 
>
>  
>
> James Gibson's Theory of Affordances provides an appropriate 
> solipsistic account of direct knowledge.  An organism perceives, not 
> by recognising a given, ready-made, objective reality placed in the 
> window of its senses, but by discovering, through direct action and 
> experience, what repertoires of behaviour the world affords it. 
>
>  
>
> ALL objects of perception are invariant repertoires of behaviour.
>
>  
>
> Directly perceived affordances are few compared with those we learn 
> through indirect perceptions based on our collective, shared 
> experiences.  These indirect perceptions depend on what we say to each 
> other and the records and memories we keep.  All those linguistic and 
> other signs also exist only in the present but they allow us to 
> picture the past and future.
>
>  
>
> Ontologically speaking (metaphysical sense) reality consists of the 
> affordances we recognise both individually and collectively.
>
>  
>
> You will be wondering where this might take us technically, formally 
> or computationally.  I shall not disappoint you.
>
>  
>
> Building on Gibson's work, we see that all knowledge of the world 
> depends a) on an agent to do the knowing and b) the agent's behaviour 
> that embodies the invariants we treat as perceived things.  This 
> suggests a syntax:
>
>             agent affordance
>
>             John upright
>
> By realising or making available a repertoire of behaviour, the agent 
> modifies itself, so that recursively we can say:
>
>             (agent affordance) affordance
>
>             (John upright) jump
>
> Some affordances depend for their existence on two, coexisting 
> antecedent affordances:
>
>             (agent (affordance while affordance) ) affordance
>
>             (John (paper while pencil)) draw
>
> When we move from direct knowledge to knowledge shared by Society 
> through the use of information, we need to treat Society as the root 
> agent, for example:
>
>             Society (person while person) marriage
>
>             Society (John while Mary) marriage
>
> But suppose they are not married; someone, perhaps John, can use a 
> sign that stands for the marriage when he wants to propose:
>
> Society (John, "(John, Mary) marriage" propose                 
>
> where the quotes indicate that we are talking about a sign that stands 
> for a marriage that does not yet exist, a sign that John employs to 
> propose. 
>
> Thus one builds a schema of ontological dependencies.  Imagine it as a 
> semi-lattice rooted in the node, Society.  Each node has associated 
> with it a tuple of intrinsic properties: identity, the universal of 
> which it is a particular, one or a max. of two ontological 
> antecedents, a start, a finish and authorities for the start and the 
> finish. 
>
>  
>
> Those schemas have an empirical canonical form that leads to stability 
> in any system based on them.  The data organised under such schemas 
> can be manipulated using a very powerful, easily understood, 4GL that 
> employs temporal operators. 
>
>  
>
> The Semantic Normal Form (the canonical schema) obeys a few strict 
> rules, especially that for an affordance to exist all its ontological 
> antecedents must coexist.  The SNF makes the 4GL possible.  While the 
> SNF is linguistically neutral as it only deals with perceptions, each 
> node / affordance in the schema can be labelled in whatever languages 
> you want to work with.  The SNF contains the kernel of the meanings of 
> those labels to which cultural variations or refinements of meaning 
> may be provided by the start and finish authorities.
>
>  
>
> For requirements engineering and also for computing, the benefits are 
> huge but one must swallow the ontology (metaphysical) on which the 
> theory is based and learn how to construct empirically based schemas 
> of ontological dependencies  not so easy but worth the effort.
>
>  
>
> Sorry to inflict such a long mail on you.
>
>  
>
> Ronald           
>
>  
>
>  
>
> On Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 4:59 PM, Patrick Cassidy <pat@xxxxxxxxx 
> <mailto:pat@xxxxxxxxx>> wrote:
>
>     Ronald,
>
>        You raise interesting issues.  Do you have an ontology or
>     otherwise based computational system that demonstrates how you
>     would address them?  Or can you point to one?
>
>      
>
>     Pat
>
>      
>
>     Patrick Cassidy
>
>     MICRA, Inc.
>
>     908-561-3416
>
>     cell: 908-565-4053
>
>     cassidy@xxxxxxxxx <mailto:cassidy@xxxxxxxxx>
>
>      
>
>     *From:* ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>     <mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
>     [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>     <mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>] *On Behalf Of *RK
>     Stamper
>     *Sent:* Friday, October 03, 2008 10:29 AM
>     *To:* [ontolog-forum]
>     *Subject:* Re: [ontolog-forum] Looking forward at the past
>
>      
>
>     Perhaps
>
>         >       it makes some kind of sense that the past can be
>         > "seen" while the future is still not available for viewing.
>
>                                                               -  
>          Jeff Schiffel  following John Sowa
>
>     or, indeed, the other way round, provided that one is not taken in by
>
>     either metaphor.
>
>      
>
>     In fact, speaking personally, I can see neither the past nor the
>     future either before me or behind me.  The best I can do is to
>     construct mental images of them that do exist now.  Of course, I
>     make use of records and plans that are external signs provided
>     that they also exist here and now.
>
>      
>
>     Ontologically speaking (metaphysical sense), by riding on either
>     metaphor, we take unnecessary risks believing in the existence of
>     things past and future. Worse still, as a community interested in
>     information and its uses, these metaphors deflect our attention
>     from the challenge of the fundamental question: how do we use
>     pictures, language and other signs to construct the past,  the
>     future and distant things so that we can use them in the only
>     world available to us, the here-and-now.   
>
>      
>
>     Ontologically speaking (semantic web sense) I feel uncomfortable
>     with all those formal ontologies that evade that fundamental
>     question. Most of all I recoil from the unjustifiable faith that
>     some place in possible worlds. Mental images composed of formal
>     models in some platonic realm simply reproduces these metaphors of
>     'seeing' the past and future but in a more sophisticated shape.
>
>      
>
>     Surely, any ontology (in either sense) cannot fully meet the needs
>     of information systems engineering until it takes account of the
>     people in whose present minds past and future necessarily reside,
>     and how they arrive at their beliefs and place any trust in them.
>
>          
>
>         Ronald Stamper
>
>     stamper.measur@xxxxxxxxx <mailto:stamper.measur@xxxxxxxxx> 
>
>      
>
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>  
>    (09)


-- 
Mike Bennett
Director
Hypercube Ltd. 
89 Worship Street
London EC2A 2BF
Tel: 020 7917 9522
Mob: 07721 420 730
www.hypercube.co.uk    (010)


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