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[ontolog-forum] FW: "Amy Winehouse is the apotheosis and nadir of post-m

To: "Ontolog-Forum-Bounces" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Sean Barker" <sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 10:11:14 +0100
Message-id: <OOEEJGAPCAJOKOFFPHLHIECGCAAA.sean.barker@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>

John,    (01)

        Thank you very much for pointing out the existing work. Coming
from a data integration background, I was not aware of the AI literature
or work in this area, and one only has limited time to read around. Your
comment "But the SemWebbers haven't yet noticed." points to a broader
problem, which you have alluded to before, that the SemWebbers have a
very narrow view of the subject. The fact that the ideas already exist
doesn't negate the need for a paradigm shift among SemWebbers - it just
means it should
be a lot easier.    (02)

Sean Barker
Bristol, UK    (03)

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-----Original Message-----
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F.
Sent: 07 June 2009 20:01
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] "Amy Winehouse is the apotheosis and nadir
of post-modern femininity".    (04)

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Sean, Rob, and Dick,    (07)

SB> Following up on my suggestion last week of a paradigm shift...
 > ... my suggestion revolved round the question of what knowledge  >
one brings (and might be expected to bring) to understanding a  >
statement.    (08)

I'm all in favor of Kuhnian-style paradigm shifts, but that idea is one
of the oldest in the business, it has been analyzed and treated in many
different ways, and the literature on the subject is immense.  That
doesn't mean that the problem is solved, because every partial solution
opens up a vast number of new problems.    (09)

SB> For a worked example, I return to "Amy Winehouse is the apotheosis
 > and nadir of post-modern femininity"...    (010)

Your analysis is fine, and your suggestions are quite reasonable.
But they have been part of the mainstream of AI and computational
linguistics for half a century.    (011)

In 1976, Jerry Hobbs wrote "a long and unreadably detailed account of
what a computer interpreter would do with one paragraph from _Newsweek_.
The specifications of the underlying knowledge base took 43 pages, and
the account of what the interpretation procedure would do with the text
and the knowledge base ran to 58 pages."    (012)

(Quoted from p. 26 of _Literature and Cognition_, by Jerry R. Hobbs,
CSLI, Stanford, CA, 1990.)    (013)

A typical paragraph from a newspaper is much easier to understand than
the Amy Winehouse sentence, which would probably require a lot more
background knowledge -- including, as you pointed out, metalevel
knowledge about the knowledge of the author and intended readers of that
sentence.  A complete specification would probably take much more than
43 pages, and a step-by-step explanation of how the computer would use
that knowledge would require much more than 58 pages.    (014)

SB> Having this distinction between ontologies and natural language
 > clearly expressed would help enormously in set the right expectations
> about what can be delivered by the semantic web in general, and  >
ontologies in particular.    (015)

I agree.  Following are reviews of books by Margaret Masterman and M. A.
K. Halliday, who were two founders of the Cambridge Language Research
Unit (CLRU) in the 1950s:    (016)

    Review of _Language, Cohesion and Form_    (017)

    Review of _Construing Experience through Meaning_    (018)

They made those distinctions and many others a half century ago.
But the SemWebbers haven't yet noticed.    (019)

Note, by the way, Halliday uses the term 'meaning base' instead of
'ontology'.  The uppermost category of a meaning tree is labeled
Phenomenon instead of Entity or Thing.  Halliday begins with the
phenomena of experience, *not* the existing things or entities that
generate those phenomena.  That is a significant paradigm shift, which,
I believe, has a great deal of merit for the purpose of understanding
cognition.    (020)

RA> But what seems a key issue is the boundary between the text/
 > manuscript in which it appears and the greater sphere of all of  >
one's knowledge. As a default, I think it is reasonable for most  >
readers to expect authors to do much of the heavy lifting in  > this
regard and supply as much context as possible (thereby  > making it more
clear what they are really trying to say) and  > reduce the 'exercise
for the reader' to a modest amount.    (021)

That depends on the intended audience.  An introductory textbook on any
subject will present a great deal of background knowledge about the
subject.  But most of that would be repetitious or boring to somebody
who had taken a course on the subject.    (022)

But I agree that there is a need for good editors, who can help an
author provide suitable background material for the intended audience.
(The WWW has made many print publishers obsolete, but there is still a
need for good editors.)    (023)

RA> When the gap becomes a chasm (trying to use all of society's
 > collected knowledge to interpret single sentences, the problem  >
becomes too intractable (I submit).    (024)

RHM> It may require a lot of knowledge, but surely not all knowledge.    (025)

Unfortunately, there is no way to know, in advance, what knowledge will
be needed for any particular sentence.  That is why it's always better
to have a dictionary or encyclopedia that's too big rather than too
small.    (026)

If you have indexing methods, you can find any item in logarithmic time.
That means it would take just twice as long to find an item in a
petabyte (10^12) as in a megabyte (10^6).    (027)

RHM> You need to identify and name the knowledge.    (028)

That option is important for some applications.  But more often than
not, an agent (human or computer) that needs some knowledge does not
know the name assigned to it by some agent that first discovered or
recorded the knowledge.    (029)

John    (030)

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