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Re: [ontolog-forum] Distributed Knowledge?

To: <paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx>, <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Sean Barker" <sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2008 19:23:07 +0100
Message-id: <F7D6464CDCC94E8390BAA34C10336FB9@PackardDesk>
    The question was about what are the expectations of the terms in an ontology. The Semantic Web version seems to suggest that you just pick up on the terms that you are interested in, and that's enough. However, if the term is just the start of a chain of inference, then someone reading only the term will mis-understand the term, at least to some extent. In principle, to understand the term in the way that it is meant, one should follow the inferences which the sender has made, and probably with the same inference engine - hence the need for omniscience.
    Alternatively, one might hypothesise that individuals may only pick up on the knowledge they need - use only the terms without further inference. That means that they have, to some extent, misunderstood the term. This raises two questions; firstly, how can one quantify the level of misunderstanding? and secondly, how can one then determine if the level of misunderstanding is significant?
    Behind this is my suspicion is that many people start with the assumtion that, say, nouns name things or concepts. An alternative is that nouns are a grammatical category that allow people to play particular word games. Many - but not all - of these games are games that relate to named things or concepts. One problem for ontology development is to exclude from an ontology the nouns which do not name things (are games only) - all though they may have a function in meta-ontology conversations. For example, I would classify "property" as defining one such game. We can cite as properties of a ball its shape, colour, age or cost without suggesting that there is anything in common between shape, colour age or cost (other than being a property). Conversely, the game property rules out "being owned by" or "having followed a particular course" as properties.
    Further, I suspect most terms in an upper ontology to be word games, that is, that these terms are contexts in which a particular set of metaphysical rules may be applied, where:
Context - an agreement on the things germane to a conversation
Metaphysical rule - a criterion for distinguishing categories within a context - e.g. change is germane to physical objects but not to abstract things like numbers.
(At least Ambrose Bierce might agree).

Sean Barker
Bristol, UK

From: paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx [mailto:paola.dimaio@xxxxxxxxx]
Sent: 14 October 2008 03:27
To: Barker, Sean (UK)
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Distributed Knowledge?

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I am curious what is the preamble for this, or are you just following your train of thoughts?

I have been working on some aspects of distributed knowledge, in particular in relation to my interest in 'expertfinding ',  and I am interested in what you say but of all things , its your conclusion that strikes a chord with me

One might also observe that to base everything on a single, comprehensive
ontology, one would need to be omniscient.

Not necessarily. A single unified ontology can be  a model for omniscience, but individuals (people and machines) only access parts of it at any given time, until and unless , our cognitive apparatus (the way we learn and make inferences) is radically overhauled. 
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