John, I think you are still missing the point about stability of the FO:
[JS] > . You keep using the term "stable meanings." But engineering is
devoted to innovation.
By definition, their goals are antithetical to stable meanings.
In computer engineering, meanings change with every release of every
Yes, the meanings of linguistic terms and of terms used in programs under
development may change - but these meanings can still be described in terms
of a foundation ontology in which the terms in the ontology have meanings
that do not change. Without that, there would be no way to actually track
the change of meanings of application terms over time. You seem to be
making the assumption that because linguistic terms can change their
meanings then all terms *must* change their meanings. That doesn't follow.
The FO can be constructed so that their terms do not change their meanings,
though new terms can be added to accommodate the need for terms with
meanings expanded beyond the original ones. (02)
I have no doubt that it is now easier to develop a narrow domain ontology
than to link to an ontology as complex as CYC (that may not always be true).
And if one doesn't need one's application to interoperate with other
ontology-based systems, that's the way I would go too. The need for an FO
arises from the need for interoperability. Virtually all of the discussions
I have had on this topic suffer from the seeming inability of some people to
distinguish the needs of a local application and the requirements for
general semantic interoperability. (03)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
> bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F. Sowa
> Sent: Sunday, January 31, 2010 5:32 PM
> To: [ontolog-forum]
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation ontology, CYC, and Mapping
> Let me start with the last two sentences of your note:
> PC> Anecdotal stories of someone trying something and failing are
> > quite useless as evidence; the tell us nothing about what works
> > and what doesn't, and why. They are, of course, amusing.
> They are far more than anecdotal. Basic principle: low-level
> ontologies are useful, but detailed axioms at the upper levels
> are of minimal value.
> Look at the $70 million invested in Cyc from 1984 to 2004 with
> no deployed applications. After a review of that work in 2004,
> the gov't agencies made a sharp cutback in funding, and the
> Cyclers have since turned their attention to doing what they
> should have been doing for years: focusing on domain-dependent
> ontologies for specific applications.
> Furthermore, we have many theoretical analyses about the nature of
> language and logic, which show very clearly where the problems lie.
> From Peirce ("Symbols grow") to Wittgenstein (language games) to
> Terry Winograd (his 1972 book _Natural Language Understanding_
> to an anti-AI approach in his publications since 1986) to the
> linguist Alan Cruse (microsenses) to the formal semantics pioneer
> Hans Kamp (http://www.illc.uva.nl/lia/farewell_kamp.html ).
> Another case in point is the work by Bill Andersen at Ontology
> Works. Bill and his colleagues had worked with Cyc at one of
> the gov't agencies, and they had focused on ways of developing
> applications (along the lines that Lenat should have done).
> They formed their own company, and they are now quite successful.
> But Bill said that their original attempts to develop a general
> upper-level ontology were not useful. They are now much more
> successful in working on domain-dependent ontologies for
> With that kind of evidence, no funding agency is going to cough up
> $30 million for a study project whose chance of success is somewhere
> close to 0%.
> PC> For the near future, I feel certain that a serious effort to
> > both logically specify and linguistically define the FO terms
> > precisely will result in few misinterpretations, and allow the
> > stable meanings that are required for accurate general semantic
> > interoperability.
> Your feelings aren't even based on anecdotes. You keep using the
> term "stable meanings." But engineering is devoted to innovation.
> By definition, their goals are antithetical to stable meanings.
> In computer engineering, meanings change with every release of
> every component. Just one more example:
> At VivoMind, we develop our software to run on Unix-like systems
> (mostly Linux and Mac OS X) and we port it to Windows. We use
> the "same" compiler (GCC) for the C code. But the GCC libraries
> for the Mac have been tweaked to make them more Windows-like
> than Linux-like. If you're just compiling one little program,
> you won't notice the difference, but if you're compiling a large
> system, you run into these hassles every time.
> We've had ISO standards for C for many years, but all the compilers
> have glitches that keep them from being completely compatible.
> Even when you're using the same (GCC) family of compilers, you run
> into glitches with different releases on different systems.
> This is, of course, system programming. But the same kinds of
> subtle mismatches occur in application programming. If you think
> a Foundation Ontology based on 2,000 English words will magically
> solve such problems, you're out of your ever-lovin' gourd.
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