[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantics of Natural Languages

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2011 14:41:23 -0400
Message-id: <4E5E8053.3040209@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rich,    (01)

Some comments:    (02)

>> About a dozen years ago, I was talking with Mike Genesereth,
>> who said "Lenat is probably the only one who doesn't know that
>> Cyc has failed."    (03)

> That is the kind of thinking that all of us show in one form or
> another.  We seem stuck in our structured ways after the first four
> decades or six, unable to overthrow the past beliefs and institute
> new untried ones.    (04)

Genesereth has been one of the strongest proponents of classical
logic-based AI.  He has been teaching at Stanford for years in
close collaboration with the same people (McCarthy, Feigenbaum,
Fikes, etc.) as Lenat.  Any success stories from Cyc would have
provided more attention (and funding) for all kinds of projects
that used logic-based AI.  But Mike G. was being realistic.  I
would qualify his comment, but I certainly couldn't refute it.    (05)

In my 1984 book, I tried to take a balanced view of the strengths
and limitations of logic-based systems.  My view then (and with
more input since then) has been that logic-based systems are
important, especially for applications to comp. sci., but that
NLP systems must include logic-based approaches as a proper subset:    (06)

  1. Large numbers of applications in computer systems, database
     systems, programming systems, and hardware/software design,
     require a foundation in formal logic.    (07)

  2. Natural languages can be used in very precise ways (for
     example, along the lines of controlled NLs), but they
     can also be used in very scruffy, very informal ways.    (08)

  3. The overwhelming volume of NL speech and documents use
     highly informal, often ungrammatical, and "innovative"
     language.  (I'm using "innovative" as a neutral term
     for what many people would call "incorrect".)    (09)

  3. I also agree with the comment by Alan Perlis that you
     can't translate informal language to formal language by
     any formal algorithm.    (010)

  4. I believe that you can interpret highly informal language
     by computer, but that you need to use huge amounts of
     background knowledge (i.e., extralinguistic information)
     to do so.    (011)

  5. Point #4 is acknowledged by classical logic-based AI projects
     such as Cyc.  But they assume that you need a long gestation
     period that depends on hand-coded logical representations
    (e.g., formal ontologies and knowledge bases).    (012)

  6. The scruffies, such as Roger Schank, disputed that claim
     from the early days (1960s).  But they didn't have the
     facilities for acquiring, storing, and using such large
     volumes of information.    (013)

  7. The hardware today is more than adequate to store and
     process the huge volumes of information needed to support
     point #6.  One example is the IBM Watson project, but
     there are other projects that have achieved comparable
     success with more modest hardware resources.  The
     VivoMind applications I summarized are among them.    (014)

> I don't see much of anything discussed about Cyc past the
> precursors I mentioned anywhere in the public literature;
> I'm not referring to tutorials about Cyc, but about analyses.    (015)

For the research publications, see    (016)

    http://cyc.com/cyc/technology/pubs    (017)

For free downloads of the ontology and supporting software:    (018)

    http://opencyc.org/    (019)

I believe that there are many useful applications of Cyc and OpenCyc,
but I also believe that a different architecture is necessary to
achieve something that could be called natural language understanding.    (020)

That is what I have been discussing in talks, publications, and emails.    (021)

John    (022)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J    (023)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>