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Re: [ontolog-forum] Past, Present, and Future of Ontology

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: FERENC KOVACS <f.kovacs@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 21:04:35 +0000 (GMT)
Message-id: <506728.67792.qm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
My pleasure. It is enjoyable to read your comments.Now the next question pops us, why have ontologies at all? Ontologists have no idea of the domains, they are intruders in any specifics. They do not either have a clue what translation or semantic analyis of Natural Languages is about, and those busy in producing MT software and TMs are also incompetent as translators. What they do is to produce rubbish to be corrected by professional translators who are well educated in the relevant domains in both languages, if they are abut at all. Localisation and MT software are a clear means of exploiting translator talents and they are a curse not a blessing for the free lancers. What you have here is surplus money finding another niche to fleece intellectual property. Translation memories are a simple theft and the colonialisation of the knowledge created by slaves through translating.
Not very long ago I found a US society busy in the augmenting or accelerating intellect/intelligence. Their image of the future of the US was openly a cast system with different classes of people with different access rights to digitally coded knowledge. When I blew the whistle by sending the link around, they deleted the website, but their friends and associates are still about. So if I were Dick, I would not press my ideas for recognition by such a lot, even though he may be right in many respect in his idealis strives. The current method of discussion on this forum makes not much sense either, especially, because you would expect more compassion from people trained in logic or the disciplined mind.  But instead of clarifying and defining each term, one by one and proceed step by step, you (THE FORUM) have a habit of firing at each other by citing and giving references on literature. This will take you nowhere just as editing Wikipedia, where you cannot have a word without giving your sources: Metrics and falsification dislodge common sense and listening skills. Science is being abandoned worldwide for the irrational, the emotional, the alternative  and the underground. All because you have a Harvard produced elite and a tight academic world of the old boys network who  bribe politicians for financial support in the name of progress and sustainability.
This worl is trying to make us outsiders believe that the western culture based on the perfection of precision  targeting in nano and cosmo levels as part of its collision culture will never pass out, but grow all the time (like a balloon, of course, just as the derivatives). And indeed, a united or integrated ontology under circumstancs when two academics or scholars cannot even on what the words meaning or context mean is a pitiful ambition. What they produce for the translatioin trade is none the less more meritable.
Rgeards, Frank

From: John F. Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: [ontolog-forum] <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, 29 May, 2009 9:24:49 PM
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Past, Present, and Future of Ontology


Thank you for the reference.  I followed it to the following source:


The author, Erkko Autio, also has other valuable insights in other
articles.  But I'd just like to comment on the following quotation
from the passage you cited:

> Because of the historical dominance of market-based theoretical
> frameworks, the dynamics of innovation in value networks are
> poorly understood.  To understand technology transfer and diffusion
> in such environments, it is necessary to discard market-based
> theories and replace them with institutional and structural theories.

Autio certainly does *not* downplay the importance of the market, but
he emphasizes that success in any new venture also depends on the
"‘users’, ‘suppliers’, and ‘innovators’" and their roles in the

For example, Alta Vista and Yahoo were dominant search engines long
before Google came along.  The market was already mature when Google
was just a student project at Stanford.  What led to the success of
Google and its continued dominance was the result of many factors,
including the innovations and the talents of the entrepreneurs.
Without a market, nobody gets any rewards.  But being the first to
market doesn't ensure long-term success.

If we apply these insights to ontology, there are some hypotheses
that seem likely:

  1. There are some applications for ontology, but there is no evidence
    of a market for ontologies, as such.  Cyc was in existence for 25
    years, and they were trying to sell ontologies for almost all that
    time with very little success.  Cycorp is now making some money
    by building applications that use ontologies rather than the
    ontologies themselves.

  2. WordNet is widely used because it is free.  But most of the
    applications are research projects, not applications that make
    a significant amount of money directly from WordNet itself.

  3. OntologyWorks is a small company that builds applications
    that use ontologies, primarily by aligning relational databases.
    They started with their own upper level ontology based on Dolce,
    but they found that the upper level wasn't very useful for
    aligning independent databases.  They found that the most
    useful ontologies were the more specialized lower levels.

  4. The Japanese EDR project (Electronic Dictionary Research) began
    around the same time as Cyc and WordNet.  They developed an
    ontology of about 400,000 concepts with mappings to both English
    and Japanese.  Multibillions of yen were spent on that project,
    but there were very few users.  They charged $20,000 per copy
    for commercial users, but universities could get a much cheaper
    copy.  Stanford has a copy of EDR, but the last I heard, nobody
    at Stanford ever used it for anything, not even for a research

  5. At VivoMind, we have developed our own ontology based on freely
    available resources, and we have developed tools for extracting
    additional information from text and tailoring it for various
    applications.  If a large free ontology were available, we would
    probably find some use for it, but we're doing quite well without
    it.  As Cyc and OntologyWorks have discovered, the reasoning is
    done at the lower levels.  Lexical resources such as WordNet,
    VerbNet, and Roget's Thesaurus together with special lexicons
    for application domains are suitable for broad coverage.

For reasons like these, I believe that developing a large expensive
ontology with the coverage of Cyc or EDR would be a waste of time,
money, and highly expensive talent.

A much cheaper and more useful approach would be to develop a
lattice or hierarchy on top of some suitable repository.  Then
populate that hierarchy with all the ontologies (big and small)
that anyone might contribute.  The hierarchy would provide the
framework for relating all the ontologies that anyone might ever
develop and contribute.

This approach would not preclude the eventual development of a
large upper level, but it could get started today with a minimum
of funding -- not much more than a web site and a good programmer.
That programmer could even be a part-time volunteer.

John Sowa

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