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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: Fri, 26 Feb 2010 12:27:01 -0500
Message-id: <4B880465.90401@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ron and Pat,    (01)

RW> Perhaps if you started to work on a joint document on the way
 > to move forward, we might start making progress.    (02)

I agree that is essential.  I have been collecting some of the
recent contributions (by myself and others), which seem to be
converging on a consensus.  I plan to extract the relevant ideas,
suggestions, and recommendations and organize them in a document
that presents an emerging consensus in a systematic form.    (03)

I'm sure that document will raise a lot more discussion, but I
hope that it will lead to some progress.    (04)

PC>  None of the factors you mention is direct evidence against
 > the utility of the FO.  They can be viewed at best as analogical
 > evidence....    (05)

It's very difficult to prove that something is impossible.  I admit
that my comments and Pat Hayes' are highly suggestive, but not a
proof.  You have a right to prefer your views on the subject.    (06)

What motivated my last note were your implications that Pat Hayes
didn't know what he was talking about.   I'm sure that you realize
that he has a very strong background in the field, and any such
implications were inappropriate.    (07)

In order to move forward, I suggest that we summarize the points
of agreement in a way that you, I, and Pat Hayes can agree with.
Following is my attempt at a summary:    (08)

  1. Computer systems have been successfully interoperating on
     narrow, specialized domains for the past half century.    (09)

  2. Good ontologies have a potential for enabling more systems
     to interoperate more successfully on broader areas and
     with less effort in development and maintenance.    (010)

  3. There are still many unanswered questions and unresolved
     disputes about how to facilitate point #2,    (011)

  4. Therefore, we should analyze and relate the various methods
     and ontologies that have been successful and try to
     generalize and extend for the future.    (012)

  5. But we should also develop a methodology that is open ended.
     It should welcome all reasonable ideas, and not exclude any
     methods that have achieved any modicum of success.    (013)

The disputes between us usually arise from your goal of a single
unified ontology, and my goal of developing a hierarchy that
includes including any or all ontologies that anyone has ever
found to be useful.  From time to time, we agree on a truce based
on the following principles:    (014)

  1. The hierarchy of theories will include whatever unified
     ontology you propose or develop.    (015)

  2. If and when your unified ontology proves to be successful,
     the reviews and case studies associated with the hierarchy
     will encourage more and more developers to adopt it.    (016)

Following is a typical comment that raises red flags and warning
signs that prompt me to respond with a critical remark:    (017)

PC> Funny thing you should mention Leibniz: he was the one who
 > proposed creation of a "characteristica universalis", a set of
 > symbols in which concepts would be precisely represented by
 > symbols so that precise reasoning can be done....    (018)

I have quoted many points by Leibniz, including some from that
document and others that he wrote later in his lifetime.  I also
noted that his computational method was one of his inspirations
for inventing the first calculating machine that could multiply
and divide.  For that reason, I suggested that Leibniz should be
considered the (or *a* ) grandfather of artificial intelligence.    (019)

However, Leibniz's achievements must be placed in context.  The
17th and 18th centuries were a hotbed of unifying schemes by
Descartes, Pascal, and many lesser lights.  See Jonathan Swift's
parody of those efforts in the Grand Academy of Lagado:    (020)

    http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles/comment/lagado.htm    (021)

The culmination of that trend was Kant, whom I also quoted:    (022)

IK> From the little I have said, it will be obvious that a dictionary
 > of pure concepts with all the requisite explanations, is not only
 > possible, but easy to complete.  [KdRV A:83, B:109]    (023)

I added the following remark in my KR book:    (024)

JFS> Whenever a philosopher or mathematician uses words like 'easy'
 > and 'obvious', that is a sure sign of difficulty.  Kant used those
 > words several times in the course of a page or two.  After two
 > hundred years, his easy task is still unfinished.    (025)

In any case, I suggest that we focus on the points of agreement
on which collaboration is possible.    (026)

John    (027)

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