Your gut skepticism is not surprising, but I tried hard to find some
objective criticism of the proposal in your response, and couldn't. If you
take the proposal's of success as 1 in 1000, and multiply that by the
potential annual interoperability savings (100 billion per year), it still
comes out to 100 million per year average benefit for such an effort. So,
even from a very skeptical point of view, it is an excellent investment for
the country as a whole (though not for any one company). Can you perhaps
find some more analytical reasoning to provide reasons why it shouldn't be
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
> bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Ed Barkmeyer
> Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 12:23 PM
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Next steps in using ontologies as
> Patrick Cassidy wrote:
> > John's comments about standards may be true of some that have been
> > in the past, but I believe that a foundation ontology that will serve
> as a
> > standard of meaning for multiple independent developers does indeed
> have to
> > be developed by a large group representing many points of view.
> I think the experience with medical ontologies demonstrates exactly the
> opposite. When you have multiple significantly different points of
> view, the solution is not one inconsistent mess or 7 years of bickering.
> The solution is multiple 'foundation ontologies', each well crafted
> represent one "body of shared meaning" -- one consistent point of view.
> An ontology is for a _community_ of "multiple independent developers"
> and if the developers share the domain but not the viewpoint, they are
> not a community.
> > It is
> > important to recognize that a foundation ontology that has enough of
> > fundamental, primitive elements to allow description of complex
> concepts in
> > many different fields will be a lot more complex than the typical
> > developed by a volunteer committee.
> I bristled at the pejorative and presumptuous tone of this, until I
> the next sentence.
> > In order to be able to represent almost
> > all of the concepts people want to talk about, it has to be at least
> > complex as a human language - not just the grammar, but the basic
> > as well.
> Now that I am fully convinced that Patrick is mad, I can forgive his
> tone. ;-)
> The existing "standard upper ontology" work speaks for itself. Some of
> it is very good work by well led volunteer committees. How widely
> applicable it is has proved to be is debatable. But not content with
> this demonstration of the limits of our competence, Patrick has a much
> more formidable task in his head.
> This has several implications:
> > (1) it will be time-consuming to learn how to use such a standard:
> > (2) therefore no one will bother learning it unless they have a
> > motivation ...
> > (3) Therefore, a plausible and (I believe) optimal and fastest route
> > developing a foundation ontology that will be widely accepted, and
> serve as
> > a functioning standard of meaning, is to fund developing of such a
> > by a large group.
> with a great deal of money and no further hope of saving the whales.
> > (4) The problem of different alternative formalisms for representing
> > same concept can be solved by allowing all alternative
> > along with translations mechanisms ("bridging axioms") to convert one
> > to another, making all logically compatible views equally part of the
> > standard. ...
> > (5) no existing ontology was developed by such a group, and the most
> > one (Cyc) is still largely proprietary. Prior experience with
> > ontologies is not close enough to this approach to have any
> predictive power
> > about its potential for success.
> save one. Most of us will be long dead ere there be any such potential.
> I encourage Patrick to continue dreaming the impossible dream, and I
> only hope he does reach his unreachable star. But I have smaller
> windmills to tilt at.
> 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
> "The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
> and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."
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