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Re: [ontolog-forum] standard ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 16:30:29 -0600
Message-id: <39F4237A-3D34-4BB8-924F-D45B39A6054D@xxxxxxx>

On Feb 18, 2009, at 2:19 PM, Patrick Cassidy wrote:    (01)

> John,
> Re your questions:
>> The groups that might fund the FO know the Cyc project very,
>> very well.  And they know that they never got much, if any
>> return on their investment.  You can't get a penny from them
>> unless you can explain in detail...
>>  1. What are you proposing that is different from Cyc?
>>  2. What makes you think that you can be more successful
>>     than Cyc?
>>  3. Why don't you start with Cyc as a foundation for the FO?
>> We've already heard the arguments that Cyc isn't open source.
>> But the cost of acquiring and adding more material to OpenCyc
>> would be vastly less than $30 million.
>> John
>  I have already gone through this litany in pieces here and there,  
> but for
> those who are new to the discussion here goes, with a little more  
> detail:
>>  1. What are you proposing that is different from Cyc?
>   1.1  The Ontology, reasoning engine, utilities, demo applications,  
> must
> all be free and open-source.  Parts of Cyc including its reasoner  
> are still
> restricted.    (02)

It is the property of a commercial company, is the product of a major  
investment over many years, and is proprietary. But it is by no means  
secret or shrouded in mystery. Several people on this Forum (having  
signed NDAs, as would be expected by any software manufacturer, for  
example) have access to all of it.  Under the circumstances, to  
suggest spending millions of public dollars to re-create something  
functionally indistinguishable from it seems quixotic at best, and  
irresponsible at worst.
>   1.2  The FO needs to include multiple alternative views of the  
> sort one
> finds in SUMO, DOLCE, BFO, ISO15926 and any other that is used by  
> anyone
> with an application.  Cyc's way of viewing the world is only one of  
> multiple
> alternatives that need to be accommodated.    (03)

Actually, Cyc has many "ways of viewing the world" already  
incorporated into it, as well as a general-purpose and highly  
developed methodology and inference machinery for keeping them  
internally coherent (without requiring them to be formally consistent.)    (04)

> The need to encourage
> contributions from multiple sources is a major element, and because  
> much of
> Cyc is still proprietary, there is little incentive for outsiders to
> contribute.    (05)

So, become an insider. Its not very hard to do.    (06)

>   1.3  The main focus (the "domain") of the FO is to *translate* among
> multiple viewpoints and alternative ontologies; Cyc maintains only a  
> single
> view    (07)

Wrong.    (08)

> , and does not now advertise an ability to translate among alternative
> representations.    (09)

Fair enough. BUt if this is supposed to the raison d'etre for the FO,  
then demonstration of how to achieve such translations and  
interoperabilty in a few nontrivial cases would be a good place to  
begin. We managed to do this in the IKRIS project, for example, to  
limited but measurable extent. Cyc was one of the targets, in fact.  I  
bet that a well-designed and convincing proposal to achieve multi-path  
interoperability between a large number (say, 20 or so ) existing  
formalisms and ontologies and notations could in fact attract  
substantial funding right now, as many government agencies have  
identified this as a major problem area.    (010)

>  The critical point of the project is to demonstrate by
> non-trivial examples that the FO is actually useful for supporting  
> semantic
> interoperability.    (011)

Wrong way to approach it. What you shold be doing is achieving  
semantic interoperability: this is what people need and are willing to  
pay for. If building an FO is the best way to do that, then make that  
your selling point. (I think it isn't, in fact, and have been giving  
this advice to the Army and anyone else who will listen as clearly and  
firmly as I can, but good luck making hte opposite case.) BUt if you  
go to them just with the FO being your prime motivation, they will not  
listen: as indeed they should not. You need to tell them what this  
hypothetical, expensive, thing is supposed to be useful for; what  
pressing problems it will solve.    (012)

>  Of course, the FO can be effectively directly used as the
> basic for development of domain ontologies, in which case the domain
> ontologies will be "born" mapped to the FO and need no separate  
> mapping
> effort.  For this purpose, there will be a utility that extracts  
> from the FO
> only those components needed for a given domain ontology.
>      There will be a natural inclination to insist that someone  
> demonstrate
> the usefulness of an FO for interoperability *before* any funding is
> granted, but such a demonstration is one of the main functions of this
> project.    (013)

You are asking for millions of dollars to fund a case study as a proof- 
of-concept? You have GOT to be kidding. At least do a pilot project  
first. Pick a domain and demonstrate the idea there. Given what Obama  
is saying, there ought to be muchos $$ available soon for medical  
informatics, for example, and its a rich enough domain to demonstrate  
all your points.    (014)

Pat H    (015)

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