Is there a named area of study which
considers the specifically process of of interpreting a sign
together with the shared knowledge needed by two agents who
communicate (using signs)?
At one extreme, Agent 1 goes into a
grocer's shop, and presses buttons on Agent 2 for "3", "red", and
"apples", and a simple mechanical system delivers the fruit. Here
the knowledge is all on Agent 1's side, and includes both the
semantics of "3", "red", and "apples", and knowledge about vending
At the other extreme, the two agents
are people, say an American tourist having got off the Paris RER in
one of the suburbs, and an Algerian shop keeper. In this, the
American uses knowledge about common social systems, and therefore
identifies the context "shop" and so knows the appropriateness of
attempting to buy apples. On the other, the shop keeper identifies
the probable language from knowledge of a range of languages,
translates the phrasing to a probable match "Trois" "Pommes" and
"Rouge" (including allowing for different syntactical structures in
each language), and so on. Here both agents use a considerable
amount of knowledge to be able to communicate at all. (The complete
sequence of "Hungarian Tourist Guide" sketches by Monty Python can
be used to extend the argument).
The reason for the question is that
the semantic web relies on symbols which are effectively decoded in
advance (are the fixed buttons in the first example or URIs in RDF).
A major goal of the semantic web is to broker communication between
agents which either use common symbols or equivalent symbols
(sameAs). However, the business processes which stand behind such
operations ground the symbols in the artefacts and actions of the
systems operating those processes. Communication is reliably only if
the symbols used by both agents are grounded in the same way - I
note that a number of the arguments on this forum seem to be between
two camps, one assuming that the grounding problem is trivial, the
other assuming that it is extremely difficult. Therefore I am
looking for a razor that can cut between the "ontologies as a formal
system" and "ontology term grounding" parts of the discussion, and
so ensure that both parts are solved.
I should also throw in my view is that
the ontology classes used by a business process are exactly those
classes which label the alternative routes onward from a decision
process, and therefore define the grounding of terms.