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Re: [ontolog-forum] Is there something I missed?

To: edbark@xxxxxxxx
Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2009 12:15:32 -0600
Message-id: <F30C44FD-8570-4741-A118-2205C362BF25@xxxxxxx>

On Feb 2, 2009, at 1:34 PM, Ed Barkmeyer wrote:    (01)

> I think I have to agree that Pat H is right, unfortunately for Sir  
> Tim and the "Semantic Web".
> I wrote:
>>> SemWeb is about creating and using knowledge models
>>> to mark up documents (and other resources) in order to improve
>>> information searches.
> Pat Hayes wrote:
>> No, really, this isn't accurate. The SWeb is about creating and  
>> publishing K.models to be used by software agents on the Web,
> as distinct from software agents that are not "on the Web"    (02)

Yes, exactly. Which is very similar to hypertext which is on the Web  
(no scare quotes needed) and hypertext, of which there was a whole lot  
long before Sir Tim came along, not on the Web. Sorry if the Web gives  
you goosebumps, or whatever the problem is, but that's what the  
Semantic Web is all about.    (03)

> (which made "Semantic Web technology" a brand new technology in  
> 1995, utterly unlike the K-R and K-E work of the previous 20 years).    (04)

Nonsense. All the OWL development is directly based on the DL work  
dating from CLASSIC, and indeed done by the very same people in large  
part (Patel-Schneider, McGuiness both span CLASSIC and OWL). Nobody  
involved with the technical side of the SWeb has claimed that it is a  
brand new technology. If anything, my complaint about it is that its  
far too much old technology, in fact. There are brand new aspects and  
issues that arise, and it would be foolish to ignore them; and there  
is a new ambition that was entirely absent from any previous KR project.    (05)

>  This is precisely the funding hype.  If Pat wants to insist that  
> all knowledge engineering after 1995 will be called "Semantic Web  
> technology", he is welcome to do that    (06)

Have I ever said any such thing? Of course not all KR is SWeb  
technology. But SWeb technology does exist, all the same.    (07)

> , and I will withdraw my objection.  (But then he has to understand  
> that the folks who make UML models in OWL to markup their documents  
> have just as much right to expound on "ontologies" as any AI expert.    (08)

Im willing to listen to anyone who is actually using any knowledge  
model in any real domain. As Im sure you know, being on a standards- 
writing working group quickly removes any trace of ivory-tower  
attitude, rather in the way that being in a rock tumbler removes bumps  
from a pebble. For the record, I don't think that the SWeb is best  
seen as applying AI technology. I feel like I stopped working on AI  
the day I first got involved with RDF. Part of what makes the SWeb  
unique is that one has to face up to the fact that when formal KR is  
put onto the Web, many of the basic attitudes that inform AI uses of  
KR no longer apply, because the K in this KR is public, not a private  
cognitive model. The famous 'gensym principle', for example, to the  
effect that logical names are unimportant, is no longer true.    (09)

>  He chose his company.)
> I agree that AI's time has come and that standardization of formal  
> languages for certain kinds of reasoning engines is appropriate.   
> And I agree that sharing and reusing ontologies is a great idea, if  
> we can figure out how.  But that has little to do with the World  
> Wide Web (semantic or otherwise).    (010)

I disagree. I think it has everything to do with the Web, and that to  
ignore the Web is to have ones head in the sand. Or maybe a better  
metaphor, it is to be standing in the road wondering what that light  
is that keeps getting brighter. But this is just a difference of  
opinion about the future of technology, and history will decide which  
of us is right.
>    (011)

> My complaint is that the Web is not necessary to, and in many cases  
> not significant to, a major part of the development and application  
> of knowledge engineering.    (012)

ITs not necessary in some absolute sense, just as the Web isn't  
necessary for retailing. Still, any retailer who ignores the fact of  
the Web is likely to be losing out on an important resource, and to  
deliberately refuse to take account of the Web would be foolish.    (013)

>  Document and service search is clearly a Web idea, and the Web is  
> vital to it, and integrating the Web aspects into the languages and  
> reasoning engines that have those purposes is critical.  There are  
> other distributed applications of ontologies that are designed to  
> use the Web in important ways (software agents _integrally_  "on the  
> Web", as distinct from agents that just use Internet technologies as  
> a means of moving bits from a known remote source), but they are a  
> very small part of the applications of knowledge engineering.    (014)

OK, so the SWeb is concerned with that part. I think its a fairly  
large part, and will likely be the dominant part, myself. But as I  
say, thats just a different prediction.
>> not primarily as document markup. And performing inference from  
>> those knowledge models is central in SWeb thinking.
> Performing certain kinds of inferences from knowledge models is why  
> we build 'knowledge models', as distinct from other kinds of models.  
> Document search (including service descriptions at some level) needs  
> certain kinds of inferences, most of which can be performed by DL  
> engines.  Decision-making needs certain kinds of inferences that  
> tend to exceed the capabilities of DL reasoners.    (015)

I think you are the only person I know who identifies DL reasoning  
with document search. Seems to me that DL reasoners are used for many  
purposes, document search being only a very small proportion. The  
original motivation for (what are now called) DL systems was for  
checking subsumption relationships between data base schemas, and this  
is still what they are widely used for. I agree that planning and  
decision making often needs inferential capability outside the scope  
of DL reasoning, as indeed do many other applications. This is one  
reason why the W3C is trying to standardize a SWeb rule language, but  
its turning out to be a bear, largely because there are too many kinds  
of 'rules' already out there.    (016)

For the record, I wish that the SWeb had never been captured by the DL  
crowd in the first place, and had instead gone in a more common- 
logicky direction. But both the early Web ontology projects (DAML in  
the US and OIL in Europe) were packed with DL folk, and their world- 
view came to dominate. But note, this wasnt a W3C conspiracy to reject  
everyone else. I was simply a byproduct of the fact that the DL  
perspective was in fact the dominant one in the industrial sector  
represented by the W3C membership. If you feel that a different view  
should have predominated, you need to have arranged that a majority of  
people holding that view were most active in a majority of industrial- 
scale laboratories at the relevant time.    (017)

> When people use the term 'Semantic Web technologies' to mean both    (018)

I certainly don't want "Semantic Web technologies" to simply mean "DL  
technology". RDF is most emphatically not DL technology, for example.  
But even if we restrict attention to DLs, the SWeb DLs have a distinct  
flavor which isn't native to the DL tradition, even if its only the  
fact that they are required to have an XML-based syntax.    (019)

> , it becomes synonymous with "knowledge engineering technologies",    (020)

Sure, its K. engineering on the Web. What the problem with that?    (021)

> which covers a dozen distinguishable reasoning technologies of the  
> last 30 years.    (022)

Hey, if they work on the Web, we'll use them. Bring them on.    (023)

>  So if there is a distinction, I would like to know what it is.
>>> Most prior knowledge engineering was aimed at
>>> facilitating decision-making by automated means.  Those are  
>>> different
>>> ideas, and there is only some overlap in the requirements on the
>>> underlying technologies.  In Mike's own terms, "trusting our  
>>> business to
>>> <a knowledge engineering activity>" is NOT a SemWeb concern.
>> Wrong; this is exactly what some people are aiming to do. Nokia  
>> phones already trust their business to SWeb knowledge engineering,  
>> for (one) example.
> So Nokia phones run some OWL/DL-based app that does something  
> useful? They run some K-E app that uses the Web in making  
> decisions?  They run some K-E app that talks to Nokia servers, or  
> telcomm servers, to make decisions?  What does "trust their business  
> to SWeb knowledge engineering" mean?    (024)

I meant only that the phones wouldn't work as they do, and so  
presumably wouldn't be bought in such numbers, if they didn't use SWeb  
technology.    (025)

> When I use a K-E app to assign people and machines to tasks that  
> directly affect revenue, I'm trusting my business to that app.  When  
> I use a K-E app to help choose a medical treatment, by eliminating  
> ones that inferentially don't apply, I'm trusting more than my  
> business to that app.  But neither of those apps has any clear  
> relationship to the Web.    (026)

If they have to use the Web to communicate with one another or to  
retrieve information vie Web transfer protocols, they do have a clear  
relationship to the Web. And it would be a serious mistake to  
misunderestimate the importance of this, IMO.    (027)

>> I don't mean here to defend SWeb progress or technologies, only to  
>> set the record straight on what the SWeb project is trying to do.
> I did mean to defend OWL/DL, because it is very useful for the  
> purpose of document markup and much of the inferencing used in  
> document search.  That it may be much less useful for other K-E  
> activities that are called "Semantic Web" activities by a broadening  
> of the term is not a problem with the technology; it is a problem  
> with creating erroneous expectations.
> If the "SWeb project" is now the umbrella for all knowledge  
> engineering (which I believe is the case)    (028)

? Isn't this exactly the opposite of what you were saying earlier in  
this message?    (029)

> , the class "semantic web technology" has no useful common  
> characteristics.  And we all need to understand that some "SemWeb  
> technologies" will be perceived as useless or misguided by people  
> who have a different KE problem.
> I have watched very intelligent people run around painting their  
> roses the funding color of the year for 30 years.  They end up  
> competing with a bunch of illiterate moneygrubbers with paper roses,  
> because they won't agree to a criterion that would eliminate paper  
> roses, if it might also eliminate old wood.  And I believe "semantic  
> Web" is now in that state.    (030)

There might well be some truth in that. Its a hot buzzword, along with  
"Web 2.0" and other journalistic burble. But don't blame the hype on  
the technologists: we aren't the ones writing the damn silly articles  
in WIred magazine.    (031)

> We are seeing, and will see more, apps that speak to other remote  
> apps in their operating environment and use the knowledge thus  
> gained, with inferencing technologies, to make decisions about  
> working cooperatively toward shared and diverse goals.  These things  
> have nothing to do with the Web per se    (032)

Are you sure? If they use Web protocols to communicate, they do have  
something to do with it. Seems to me that to ignore this or belittle  
it is a bit like saying that because air and water are both fluids,  
birds can swim without paying attention to the difference.    (033)

> , and they need standards to know what constructs mean  
> ("semantics"), but they have everything to do with knowledge sharing  
> and decision making.  And we are inventing terms like SmartCars and  
> SmartGrid and SmartBuilding to describe these technologies.  They  
> may document their XML schemas using OWL information models, but the  
> decision technologies are rules engines -- classical k-e with modern  
> communications and processing speeds.  Their apostles do not call  
> them "semantic Web" technologies; they have no need to.    (034)

I don't give a damn what they are being called, but part of the SWeb  
ambition is certainly to provide communication standards to allow such  
things to interoperate over the Web. OWL isn't the final word: there  
are SWeb rule languages being designed right now.    (035)

Look, I know that defining standards isn't rocket science. Of course a  
standard will be a codification of work done elsewhere by others, in  
large part. Still, it needs to get done, and its a lot of work, much  
of it unrewarding and tedious. If you have technical issues with the  
W3C standards work that has been done, by all means shout them from  
the rooftops. But if all you are moaning about is journalistic hype  
and terminology, and the no doubt unfortunate fact that people are  
attracted to the latest intellectual fashion, please stop whining.    (036)

Pat    (037)

> -Ed
> -- 
> 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."
>    (038)

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