John F. Sowa wrote:
> Pat, Ron, and Ali,
> PC> Your comments suggest that you are talking about a different
> > kind of interoperability than what is needed for the computer age:
> I am talking about the precise specifications that have been, are
> being, and will be used for interoperability among computer systems
> from the 1960s to the present and for the foreseeable future.
> JFS>> people [have] been interoperating for millennia without any
> >> common upper ontology...
> PC> Yes, *people* do, but machines don't.
> I'm happy that you recognize the first point, but the second clause
> is false. *All* successful interoperability among computer systems
> from the 1960s to the present is based on *syntax* and *semantics*
> for just the narrow domains on which interoperability is intended.
> That is *task oriented* interoperability, which works beautifully
> for both people and computers. If you take a taxi in New York,
> your chances that your driver is a native New Yorker are almost
> zero. But you can interoperate on that narrow domain. The same
> kind of task-oriented interoperability works for communications
> among computers and mixtures of people and computers.
> PC> The sort of accurate *semantic* interoperability that requires
> > a common foundation ontology (or something like it) is the ability
> > for a *machine* to take information placed in a public repository
> > and properly interpret it and make important decisions based on it.
> That has been the dream of artificial intelligence for the past
> half century. There have been some limited success stories for
> very specialized domains, but nobody has implemented anything
> that can do what you are asking for.
> PC> That is possible if and only if the information is specified
> > with the kind of precision that a common foundation ontology
> > can provide.
> That it completely false. Precision and generality are totally
> different goals. Following is a quotation by C. S. Peirce that
> is just as true today as it was a century ago, and it will still
> be true a century from now:
> It is easy to speak with precision upon a general theme. Only,
> one must commonly surrender all ambition to be certain. It is
> equally easy to be certain. One has only to be sufficiently
> vague. It is not so difficult to be pretty precise and fairly
> certain at once about a very narrow subject.
> In short, if you want the kind of precision necessary for
> successful interoperability among people or among computers,
> you have to narrow the domain to a precisely specified *task*.
> PC> I emphasize again that we must clearly distinguish the problem
> > of general, accurate *automatic* (without a human in the loop)
> > semantic interoperability from all other interaction situations.
> I completely agree. That has been the dream of AI for the past
> half century and probably for the next half century as well.
> I encourage you to dream on. Meanwhile, the rest of us can
> work on something that we know how to accomplish.
> RW> My Visa card is good around the world and somehow the various
> > banks are able to make sense of the transaction and transfer
> > the funds correctly and split the fees, in spite of having lots
> > of different accounting systems and banking laws...
> Your examples illustrate what we know how to do very well today.
> Good ontologies for those *tasks* can make them more general and
> easier to implement, extend, and use.
I am just not sure how much impact this will have. Will I be able to buy
more stuff in more places? Will my rates and transaction fees decrease
in any noticeable way? Not optimistic. (01)
> AH> If the goal is to identify a single theory which everyone
> > subscribes to -- i think we're chasing a ghost. However, if
> > the end goal is to identify several of the major / influential
> > paradigms and to explicate how they interconnect with one another,
> > and then to identify the translations / mappings between them to
> > enable (partial) interoperability - then i'm all for it.
> I agree.
> AH> Note in my response, I don't disagree that there need be an
> > overriding framework to make sense of the sundry ontologies now
> > available. However, I suppose I disagree with you [PC] that the
> > solution is a foundation ontology (unless of course you meant
> > one for the abstract properties of relations and functions).
> I believe that something along those lines should be our goal.
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