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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontologist Aptitude Test?

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 2010 11:04:55 -0800
Message-id: <20100116190500.1F6EE138D1B@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Comments interspersed as noted by "RC:" and "JS:" below.  





Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com


John F. Sowa wrote:
Sent: Saturday, January 16, 2010 10:16 AM
To: [ontolog-forum]


RC> Basically, companies don't do research on the stockholders' dimes.


 JS: 3. They were successful in all three ways:  they built the antenna

     as an engineering project; they established precise limits on

     background radiation as an applied research project; and as a

     bonus, they made an unexpected scientific breakthrough that

     won a Nobel Prize.


RC: Bell Tel spent telephone users' money (taxpayer money, not stockholder money) - the money they had paid to the feds for supporting that monopoly in the first place, for poor telephone service that should have been far advanced to what it finally exploded into after deregulation.  


RC: After Bell Tel was broken up and the monopoly stopped:


  JS: 3. For the short term, telephone costs dropped by orders of

     magnitude.  But the Bell Labs' kind of research dried up

     -- at least in the US.


RC: ...


Those cutbacks partially justify Rich's comment.  But the result

of all of them is that the US now imports the kind of high tech

that they had always exported.


RC: Showing that the taxpayers supported a sloppy monopoly that found ways to spend taxpayer money for their own research purposes with absolutely no payout to the taxpayer-phone subscriber.  Of course the stockholders were overjoyed; they profited from the taxpayers' money and the excessive phone call prices while they were busy doing "research" in ways that didn't make it back to the taxpayer or the US economy.  


JS: In summary, I'd replace Matthew's statement "There are at least 3

kinds of thing here which you are trying to insist are only two"

with the following points:


  1. There is a continuum between blue sky research, applied research,

     and engineering.  Sharp distinctions can be misleading, especially

     when they are made, after the fact, based on what succeeded.

RC: agreed


  2. However, researchers do need guidance from management about what

     areas to explore and how much funding should be alloted to each.


RC: management is only acting in concert with stockholder interests when they set budgets, strategies and tactics for market control. 


  3. The *best* guidance comes from enlightened managers who have a

     strong background in the technical fields, the business needs,

     and the kind of R & D environment that promotes innovation.


RC: I have only known two or three managers in the last four decades, out of perhaps hundreds I have worked with, who I think fit that description.  One problem is that management is an art, not an "enlightened" science.  Very few managers can spend the time and energy it takes to get their management work done, much less staying technically up to date.  With what time is left, they get advice from their technical folk on staff.  They don't make technology decisions themselves if they are really managers.  They mostly make budgeting, scheduling and marketing decisions.  The half life of a technical degree is about five years.  Those of us technologists who keep up to date have to spend a lot of time reading new material, learning new problem areas, and so on.  We don't have time to manage people and still do the technical work properly and professionally.  


  4. The *worst* kind of guidance comes from a frozen set of rules

     based on what worked in the past and applied by pointy-haired

     bosses who have been promoted beyond their level of competence.

     (In military terms, this is equivalent to fighting a new war

     with the strategy and tactics developed for the last war.)


RC: Agreed, but that is the only source (past history) which has any validation at all for the company.  You can PREDICT what will happen due to changes in the market since the last war, but you won't be any more ACCURATE at it than the generals who try to fight the last war, the managers who use the documented history to debate with other managers what the best strategy is, or the technologists who use the same solution they used last time even when the situation is different.  


RC: To put it another way, IMHO, rule based systems are simply too simplistic to solve real world problems.  They constitute one component for reconfiguring the parts that change often.  But they need MORE than just the rule bases to get even barely satisfactory results.  That's why almost no enterprise system is done ENTIRELY in SQL.  Instead, the SQL queries are generated by software that handles the true complexity of the application and maps it into storage structures which are appropriate for SQL statements.  







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