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Re: [ontolog-forum] Some Grand Challenge proposal ironies

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Steve Ray <steve.ray@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2011 22:34:11 -0700
Message-id: <4ea64a55.2401440a.3079.ffffd39e@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I'm a little concerned that this Ontology Chemistry theme is more of a grand
project/product proposal rather than a topic for consensus and articulation
of a position on the part of the ontology community, which is the nature of
the Ontology Summit.    (01)

Steven R. Ray, Ph.D.
Distinguished Research Fellow
Carnegie Mellon University
NASA Research Park
Building 23 (MS 23-11)
P.O. Box 1
Moffett Field, CA 94305-0001
Email:    steve.ray@xxxxxxxxxx
Phone: (650) 587-3780
Cell:      (202) 316-6481    (02)

-----Original Message-----
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Christopher
Sent: Friday, October 21, 2011 11:37 AM
To: [ontolog-forum] 
Subject: [ontolog-forum] Some Grand Challenge proposal ironies    (03)

All,    (04)

Here are the first questions I imagined as your very valid responses to my
post introducing the notion of "Ontology Chemistry" as the basis of a Grand
Challenge that I am asserting will revolutionize Software Engineering (SE).
(That post is now archived at
http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/2011-10/msg00088.html .)    (05)

Q1:  On the wiki at
http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?OntologySummit/Suggestions the
target you propose for a Grand Challenge is a bootstrap for an intended new
ecosystem.  Presumably that involves producing a programmed product?    (06)

A:  Yes indeed, that's the basic starter platform.  It's that initial or
seed "Application Operating System" (or AOS) I've already introduced on this
forum at odd times.    (07)

Q2:  But why make a Grand Challenge of what is normally an in-house product
development?  (It even seems to have started out as one?)    (08)

A:  (Yes it did, and I've already done some significant C coding for it in a
win32 environment.)  The Challenge answer starts on slide 21 of the X Prize
presentation referred to on the Ontolog page you've just cited.
These are the first questions for anyone trying to design a Grand
Challenge:    (09)

> Have you targeted a problem where a market failure exists?
> Where the normal forces of capitalism will not solve the problem?
> Does your prize address the underlying market failure?    (010)

Q3:  So the "market failure" you're addressing here is your own?    (011)

A:  Though you realize that's not really what they had in mind, yes, that is
partly the case.  Sure.  But my failure so far has not been in the
conception of the product or its market.  (Far from it!  To a remarkable
degree there has for several decades been an ever greater convergence of
many current trends with the course I've long been embarked on.)  No, my
failure has primarily been in not having been able to sell the still
productless idea to colleagues as possible collaborators, despite having
tried on the web from time to time since 1996.    (012)

But that failure is for quite objective reasons too. Anybody can relate to
the suggestion that one notion can be said to underlie the need side of the
universal market I claim to be addressing:  complexity.
Complexity and our continual disasters as we fail to handle it
appropriately.  Surely we can better broach and deal with the given
complexity of reality?  There's no need to wax all philosophical about it
either, because it's commonly a very real and pressing problem in our
everyday social and individual lives, as it is in our SE domain.
"Complexity" was even the title of Chapter 1 of the 1994 book, Object
Oriented Analysis and Design with Applications, by Grady Booch of the Three
Amigos behind UML.  But naming the problem is not solving it.    (013)

So it is probably rather misguidedly that I have long tried to describe the
objective of the proposed product as "to help people simplify
complexity together".   Depending on whom I'm talking to, it has
unfailingly fallen flat and - I imagine - been generally dismissed as either
useless clichi or abstract mystification.    (014)

In such ways I have been trying rather ham-handedly for some years to find
others to join in on the project. But after all it's no surprise:
that elephant seems so gigantic, the basic reality is so horrendous, so any
project facing up to it has to be deemed incredible, tantamount to "boiling
the ocean", probably delusional, and at least "impractical for us".  Lesser
obstacles have been NIH, and my still too idiosyncratic depictions of the
concept and project.    (015)

More interestingly, there's also a rather fundamental and inescapable bug in
the whole notion (though we'll be accepting it as an important feature of
the proposed new scene too): evolution in general suboptimizes with merely
stepwise improvements.  And here I am, proposing that we try to leap that
canyon?    (016)

Q4:  So the idea of a Grand Challenge is to dare to leap the Grand Canyon?    (017)

You could put it that way.    (018)

Q5.  But then surely it is indeed delusional to try?    (019)

It would seem so.  So my next posts will be immeasurably more positive.
The "phenomenon of knowledge" throughout our past shows us how we might in
future more confidently and appropriately grasp the nettle of complexity.    (020)

Widespread present SE market failures also provide useful perspectives, as
well as opportunities for leapfrogging many serious obstacles in the present
Internet-based SE ecosystems.    (021)

All that background will be handy for an enumeration of many possible
arguments to use when approaching potential funders.    (022)

Then with such bogeymen less feared, we can start getting down to the
relevant detail of the proposed new architecture and AOS.  More detailed and
appealing outlines of the suggested Grand Challenge will emerge.    (023)

Christopher    (024)

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