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Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 4 Sep 2011 12:01:59 -0700
Message-id: <DFAA8E659579444F8D5DDCC62D07A963@Gateway>

Dear Pat,

Please see comments below in response to your post and the two interesting questions you raised,



Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2

-----Original Message-----
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Pat Hayes
Sent: Sunday, September 04, 2011 11:18 AM
To: Rich Cooper
Cc: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Semantics of Natural Languages

    PH:> I am finding this whole thread rather bewildering. The original suggestion, as I understand it, was that it might be a good idea to invent an ontology focussed on the notion of self-interest. To my mind, this suggestion immediately invites several questions.

    1. Why? That is, why this notion rather than some other folk-psychological notion, such as, say, schadenfreude or anger or happiness or...? Is it because someone feels that self-interest is of central importance in human affairs? What assumptions underlie this (or whatever other relevant) intuition of this notion's importance? The answer to this question might iluminate that of the next question.

If you would like to suggest alternatives that can explain behavior in subjective scenarios, that could be very useful.  I chose the term self-interest because that explains a huge portion of the political scenarios that were discussed in the beginning of this thread.  Also, when I used the term "subjectivity", it didn't get across the purpose I wanted to convey.  That purpose is to find more accurate ways of explaining human behavior. 

John felt that starting at a smaller scale (biosemiotics) could narrow the subject well enough to make progress, but my Use Case 1 suggestion didn't stimulate discussion.  If you have a more compelling Use Case, that would also be useful.  I tried Use Case 2, but that seemed too abstract, and oriented the self interest issues only in terms of EBITDA, which is such a small part of self interest that it seems to have also not been a good keystone for starting discussions. 

But it (self interest) is a soft appellation; suggestions to change it to another phrase, or to decompose it into more specific constituent categories, or otherwise to clarify the discussion (which is, as you put it, bewildering so far) would be useful. 

     2. This phrase 'self-interest' seems underspecified. It can be understood in many ways: as a social/political force in human affairs; as a pyschological hypothesis about human cognition; as a moral factor; and so on. Each of these relates the phrase to a different context of related notions, and probably will turn out to be a slightly differnt idea as a result. What context was in mind when the ontology was originally suggested? Where should we look to see what kind of other concepts would be in the proposed ontology?

That is an excellent question, and yes, Self-Interest is (so far) highly underspecified. 

I was hoping that the political illustration of how self interest explains nearly all of the differences of opinion observable in American politics would add some context, but that got us into purely political discussion, so was too emotional a topic and lost the focus from the main topic of what predicts human behavior, or even agent behavior (i.e., biota, leaf cutter ants, ). 

So there is still not a good context that we can all agree on, unfortunately, and which stays on topic.  ANY suggestions you might have to get us back on focus would be very good to read. 


David Eddy favors a list of 1,500 to 6,000 concepts which I thought might help explain the self interest (and the business processes affected by it), though I think the estimate is higher than that.  Nevertheless, some context such as business, politics, biosemiotics, investment resolution, or any other factor in which people (and simpler agents) interact could possibly be the right one.  We just haven't found it yet. 

As David said,

    > Information systems typically are poorly/ambiguously defined & constantly evolving.

    > Plus the language used to describe information systems (software) is all over the place & very rarely formally expressed.

    > Like it or not, believe it or not, Agile or not, most systems used in organizations go through some sort of systems development life cycle...


    > 1 - requirements

    > 2 - analysis

    > 3 - design

    > 4 - coding

    > 5 - implementation

    > 6 - maintenance


    > At each one of these steps people with different views of the world, with different life experiences & with different use of language get to put their oar in the water.  Then you get to mix in professional

    > jealousies (requirements folks CERTAINLY do NOT speak/write/think the same language as programmers) & the dynamics of mergers & acquisitions.


    > True enough; each discipline has its own tribe of adherents (BA, SA, SE, Mgr …) and each has its own collective viewpoint about how things OUGHT to be; it is nearly always something another tribe is NOT doing, to that tribe's discomfort and hysteria.  The amazing thing is that ultimately MOST software developments are somewhat successful; otherwise they would stop getting funded by those satisficing business execs.

Note that David, with great experience in that context, understands how subjective (self interested) the various parties are and why they focus on their personal limited viewpoints instead of on the higher level issue of the business as a whole.  That analogizes nicely with the politics of American forces - Unions, Large Businesses, Political Causes, and various other amalgamations (groups) of people, each with a self interest to protect at the expense of the whole. 

The quote from Genesereth that Cyc has failed is worth considering in this topic, IMHO, because that widely agreed notion of its failure might show what is missing.  In my opinion, it is the lack of a model for self interest which might be the answer, or at least a large part of the answer to that question.  What is missing from the combination of knowing what and knowing how that prevents us from constructing demonstrations of the Turing Test, simple as it is. 



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