Here is a second example on how self
interest drives progress due to the number of people involved in the group.
Its an article on an economic theory that a patent owner can give away free
licenses and still profit because it gives the patent owner more productivity
to have a bunch of licensees with no royalties instead of just one with a
paying license. The article is at:
One humorous thing about this article is that
there are links to the original material in Economics Letters. But every
path I tried led to a demand that I pay for the license to read it! But
lets leave that aside.
Several years ago on this list, someone
mentioned a theory that patents cost more to industry than they provide in
gains. But that theory ignores the self interest of patent holder.
Economic theories seem to be often beset by ignoring the self interest of some
group and claiming the deal (policy, regulation, constraint…) is in
everybody’s interest somehow. Actually, it is only in the interests
by consensus of the group. The parties left out of the conversation might
or might not agree, weakly or strongly.
Does anyone remember the article?
Googling about it I came across a real
live ONTOLOGY which might even please ontologists. Its here:
and its an ontology of patents. It
comprises a bunch of specialized area ontologies, all built on top of SUMO, (remember
them?) which the article says is mapped onto WordNet.
The part of the article of interest to
ontologists is the following:
was selected as the core ontology because, it is open source, it provides
single, pragmatic ontology for use in variety of applications and it is
completely mapped onto the WordNet. SUMO high level concepts and properties
provide the basis for the construction of the other ontology modules.
Patent Upper Level Ontology – PULO provides patent specific concept
configurations and terminology, acts as a bridge (midlevel ontology) between
the high-level abstractions of SUMO and the low-level details of the other
ontologies and includes all patent-specific concepts that are generic.
Patent Document Structure Ontology
provides the structural composition of a patent document and comprises all
concepts needed for a comprehensive description of a patent document structure.
Patent Drawings Ontology models the figures of patent documents and Patents
Metadata deals with the explicit metadata and implicit metadata.
Does anyone else find this useful
information re patents? – We could start another thread on that heading
if so. But just ontologically speaking, its good to know that
1) There are useful things built on SUMO and a plurality of derived,
specialized ontologies all of which are apparently (?) successfully
interchanging information somehow – I would assume its all type checked,
so every type is unique and structured for traversal.
2) The Share-Your-Patent theory, like the Ridley video, could use this
as a case study if the business information were available to us as to how the
patent owner, if any, gained or lost by making it free. Note: the website
gives free access
3) The http://mklab.iti.gr/project/patexpert
link lets you download the ontology (I suppose its for free) but it comes as a
.rar file which I haven’t been able to convert to something civilized
yet. If anyone has a more interpretable format, please advise.
This illustrates self interest as just a
business tradeoff decision – do the math and pick the best choice.
There is no spectrum of motives mentioned which might be involved beyond cold
hard math that insists on a precise answer. How motivated is the agent,
and how well does the task pay off for other simultaneous goals? How do
the simultaneous goals in the spectrum get affected by the change? How
can the various agents and their various motives be tracked conceptually?
It should be clear that people do this
acting in their self interest. Even something as simple as a chess game
involves strategies when the options are many and equal, tactics when the
options are few and widely evaluated. But in language, as reflected
thoughts, how would we represent our world if not by our native language.
In my case that was English. So that is what I will use.
Those should be some initial concepts for
the Self Interest Ontology:
Does anyone else want to suggest or edit
these very rough concepts?
Since I have a motive to implement in
IDEF0, I would like to represent the ICOM objects as instances derived from the
one object class. In that notation, an object is very
much like a variable symbol in that it can take on any of the other concepts
above, including action, and even itself – object .
That literally means that any object can be
a representation of other objects leading
to unconstrained expressiveness.
IDEF0 has successfully represented every
model of actions and work flows, so I will use that knowing at least that there
is a history of successful use by potential consumers.
Consumers have a motive to buy. That is why they are the target audience to be
inspected, measured, predicted and even modeled to get more knowledge of their present
and alternative future actions and contexts. So consumers could be a
plurality of agents under the ontology context. But then they
would have to be called consumers.
The point is that every self interest can be modeled, IMHO, within that
minimalist framework of the above ontology. If you can suggest an example
self interest that you think can’t be modeled that way, please bring it
up so we can look at it.
Suggestions, Corrections, Comments
Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Rich Cooper
Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2012
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology
You found the video, but missed the article. It
really is at the (truncated looking) URL which appears prematurely cut off
I have changed this email format to HTML for this
post. You may have more luck following the link with this format instead
of rich text as in the previous post.
Your YouTube link didn’t have the text around
the video which draws the point. For example, the text includes this
Tierney and Ridley also
discuss how traders and businessmen, much maligned throughout history as
exploiters and "social parasites," have actually contributed
enormously to the spread of ideas and new technological breakthroughs. Ridley
describes how Fibonacci, the son of an Italian trader who lived in North
Africa, brought the Indian numeral system (the numbers we all know and love
today) to Europe as one of the greatest tangible benefits of trade facilitating
the exchange of ideas. Ridley implores the public to "Just stop knocking
traders, they're great people, they do wonderful things."
I think the point he makes is that some minimum
density of intellectual population is necessary to raise the rate of
innovation, and that is influenced by, among other things, cultural (such as religious)
openness to new ideas and improvements. But even with an open,
nondogmatic society, there is still a minimum number of people needed to make
the society grow intellectually, rather than shrink, as the Tanzanians did with
just 4,000 population when their island was cut off from the Australian
Ridley, ever a good book marketer, sensationalizes it
by describing it as “ideas having sex”. That is the point of
the article; people build their own ideas on top of each other’s ideas, modulate
them, apply them to new situations, and generally generalize and specialize
other people’s ideas. The rate at which people do so varies as the
number of people (and therefore the number of ideas) available to intellectual
discourse, with Tanzania’s
4,000 being too low, and Greece’s
population being adequate.
It isn’t surprising to hear that most Greek
philosophers of classical times came from outside Athens – thanks for sharing that.
itself was more likely the population which interchanged ideas. Athens was just the New
York of Greece. Athens
was just the civilization that “published” papyri of the good
ideas, chose which ideas to teach each new generation, provided the cross roads
for accumulated commerce and trade, and valued knowledge sociologically.
Look at what happened to Athens
– wars with its neighbors, poisoning of Aristotle, many other degenerate
social warps occurred there. The Athenians practiced a government like
that description Ronald Reagan gave: “Government is like a baby. A
hungry alimentary canal at one end and no sense of responsibility at the
The point of the article, as I see it, is that
individuals following self interest are the originators of knowledge, sharers
of knowledge, and the source of social progress. Grouping people into
political units (such as religious movements, democracies, socialist states,
dictatorships, pick your favorite or most reviled instance) is what turns the
groups ultimately toward the dark side.
So I disagree on the subject of the email. I
changed it back to my original “Self Interest Ontology” because I
think you missed the points I was trying to make with regard to how knowledge
is formed. It isn’t from the sole source of genius as you seem to
believe. Ridley’s material shows that the important factor is the
size of the group which can share knowledge and produce new material from
combinations of old materials. All of the people in Ridley’s groups
are acting in self interest.
He identifies “traders” as the multiculturalists
who moved knowledge from one culture (e.g., Arabic/Indian numerals) to another
(e.g., classical Western civilizations) and therefore did the intellectual and
pragmatic pollination of societies.
The point is: If we could codify self interest in ontological
form, we could possibly leverage that ontology to automate the creation of new
knowledge. That was (decades ago) Cyc’s ultimate goal, but Cyc took
the wrong turn of trying to make a single monolithic knowledge base that knows
everything they could encode. They discarded the self interest of the
individuals’ knowledge bases, and insisted on a single monolithic
knowledge base which required unreasonable degrees of consistency, throwing out
the variance which would have led to automating knowledge creation. They
chose to value the group’s knowledge instead of the individuals’
That, IMHO, is the wrong conclusion. Instead,
each Cyclist should have developed an ontology of her own. Then the
sharing of those individual ontologies could have been automated (if only
partially) to create new knowledge from combinations of individual’s
knowledge as encoded in Cyc. That is why self interest is important, and
that is why I have changed the subject back to its proper title.
Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F Sowa
Sent: Friday, April 06, 2012 11:13 PM
Subject: [ontolog-forum] Promoting
invention and innovation
Thanks for pointing out that interview. It is
provoking. (For two footnotes about procedural issues,
> I found a terrific video interview with biologist
> (one of my favorite pop biology authors) which
> of the phenomenon in self interested
> his idea is that progress depends far more on the
> individuals in a group exchanging ideas than it
does on any
> one GENIUS, or other appellation you might want
to use to
> describe individuals who provide outlier
Following is an uncorrupted URL of the video:
Some comments about Matt Ridley's talk:
1. I strongly agree with him that innovation
depends on having
a sufficiently large
population of people and a considerable
amount of interchange among
people from different cultures.
2. Merchants traveling from town to town, port
to port, or
country to country are
important. But the traveling or
trade, by itself, is only
part of the story. You also need
travelers who do the
innovating -- gurus, storytellers,
explorers, adventurers, and
people who have enough technical
knowledge to recognize a good
innovation when they see one.
3. Ridley also mentioned the Arabs, who
adapted, adopted, and
transmitted many innovations
from many cultures -- Greece,
Africa, etc. But he said that they
"superstition". That is too simplistic.
4. Many scholars praise the Greeks for their
in philosophy, mathematics,
logic, science, democracy, etc.
But they don't emphasize one
very important point: *all* of
the early Greek philosophers
came from the colonies outside
not from Athens
or other cities in the heartland.
5. In fact, the first so-called
"pre-Socratic" philosophers came
from the Greek colonies in Anatolia, which were under the
control of Persia at the time (6th century
BC). That was also
close to the Silk Road, which brought merchants, soldiers, and
storytellers from China to and from Europe.
6. The philosophers from Anatolia
include Thales, Anaximander,
Xenophanes, and Heraclitus. Pythagoras
left his native island of Samos
and traveled to Egypt,
he was initiated into the
Egyptian priesthood. He later
settled in the Greek colony
of Croton in southern Italy.
(By the way, I live in Croton
on Hudson, New York.)
Other early Greek
philosophers from the colonies in Italy
include Parmenides, Zeno,
Empedocles (who proposed the
four elements of Fire, Air,
Water, and Earth). Others
came from miscellaneous Greek
towns on the periphery.
7. The first major Greek philosopher who was
born in and
stayed in Athens was Socrates. It is significant
he was condemned to death for
corrupting the morals of
Athenian youth. The
philosophers from the colonies
said many worse things about
the Olympian gods, but they
got away with it because the
Persians and others couldn't
care less about the Greek
gods. But the Athenians did.
There is much more to be said about all these issues,
point stands out: the fundamentalists in every
every culture around the world are the ones that cause
most stifling kind of stagnation. That was true
Greeks in ancient times, and it is true of *every*
everywhere in the world. (I won't name any
because that would create endless debate.)
I'm not against all religions, by the way, when they
taken in moderation. But when any religion
as dogma, the culture goes downhill rapidly.
And by religion, I include Marxism and Capitalism. I
even consider an uncritical idolization of Science as
religion. All of them have some good ideas, if
moderation. But their fundamentalists are the most
threats to their own countries.
1. The long URL you cited was cut off by your
I had to do a bit of searching
to find the above URL,
but I suggest that you get a
better email handler or
change some settings on the
one you use.
2. I also changed the subject line to indicate
the main topic
of Ridley's talk. It is
tangentially related to self interest,
but the main theme is the
kinds of factors that promote or kill
invention and innovation.
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