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Re: [ontolog-forum] Foundation ontology, CYC, and Mapping

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 2010 11:25:01 -0500
Message-id: <4B800CDD.9080305@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Although there has been a lot of support for the proposal I suggested,
I also received an offline note that expressed some reservations about
OpenCyc.  Before saying anything more, I'd like to add that I have also
had many reservations about the various choices made in Cyc and OpenCyc.    (01)

That is why I believe that we need to give equal support to *every*
ontology that has been proposed or will be proposed.  Following is
a slightly edited copy of my response to the objections.    (02)

John Sowa
_______________________________________________________________________    (03)

As I have been saying for years, we need to accept and support all well
developed ontologies that have achieved any reasonable level of usage.
There are two kinds of ontologies we have to consider:    (04)

  1. Those that have been implemented and used in multiple projects
     over an extended period of time.    (05)

  2. Those that have been developed on theoretical principles, but have
     not been thoroughly tested in practical systems.    (06)

I have a great deal of sympathy with both approaches, but as ontolog
list and the earlier SUO list have shown, the debates never seem to
converge on anything that people can actually use.    (07)

In the proposal I suggested, I tried to achieve a reasonable balance
that will not rule out any reasonable ontology of any kind, practical
or theoretical.  However, the people who need something they can
actually use have been waiting *ten years* since the SUO group was
founded, and many of them have given up.    (08)

Therefore, we need an approach that people with practical problems can
begin using ASAP.  But we need to make it extensible and adaptable to
*any and every* reasonable ontology in existence today and any that
may be developed in the future.    (09)

Therefore, I suggested a merger of two very different but compatible
approaches:  (1) the lattice of all theories, and (2) a starting
ontology that has been widely used and tested.  Part #2 will give
people something they can begin using immediately; part #1 will
accommodate all possible additions and extensions that anyone and
everyone has suggested.    (010)

Anonymous> I suggest a prospective framework...    (011)

That is a good approach, and the publications cited are very good.
But it is a recipe for another ten years of debate.  If a considerable
amount of funding is poured into it, it might reach a usable stage
in just five years.  My recommendation is to merge that approach
with the proposal I suggested.    (012)

There are several reasons for choosing OpenCyc as a starting ontology:    (013)

  1. It is based on 26 years of design, development, implementation,
     testing, and use by many highly competent logicians, linguists,
     philosophers, and computer scientists.    (014)

  2. There is a depth of experience, documentation, and tools for
     Cyc and OpenCyc that is unmatched by any other ontology.    (015)

  3. OpenCyc is freely available as open-source software.    (016)

  4. There is a significant community of people who have developed
     and used Cyc and OpenCyc over the years, and they can serve
     as consultants and collaborators on any further developments.    (017)

  5. There is no other ontology that can come close to OpenCyc
     in all the above areas.    (018)

However, I certainly sympathize with the many people who have
criticized Cyc over the years, and I have been one of them.
But every other ontology can be criticized on as many or more
issues, and none of them have all the advantages of OpenCyc.    (019)

But I also sympathize with people who do not want to abandon their
own approaches in favor of the theoretical choices that the Cyc
developers made, and I am one of them.  Therefore, I would insist
that the development of the FO should *not* be hosted on the
OpenCyc web site.  The steering committee for the new development
should *not* be managed by the people who developed Cyc, although
we would welcome them as colleagues and collaborators.    (020)

Bottom line:  Let's give the developers something they can work
with today while the theoreticians continue to perfect and extend
a foundation for the future.    (021)

John Sowa    (022)

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