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Re: [ontolog-forum] Truth

Cc: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 07 Jul 2012 18:24:41 -0400
Message-id: <4FF8B729.5050202@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Pat,    (01)

We have participated in many activities that seemed promising
at the time.  Just a few excerpts over the decades:    (02)

1980: Workshop on Data Abstraction, Databases and Conceptual Modelling,
       Park, Colorado.  The issues debated then have a remarkable
       similarity to many debates in Ontolog Forum:    (03)

http://www.informatik.uni-trier.de/~ley/db/conf/sigmod/pingree80.html    (04)

1991: Shared Reusable Knowledge Base (SRKB) workshop and email list.
       Following is the email record:    (05)

       http://www-ksl.stanford.edu/email-archives/srkb.index.html    (06)

2000: The IEEE Standard Upper Ontology Working Group (SUO WG).  This
       effort was started in 2000 and continued as an email discussion
       list for several years: http://suo.ieee.org/    (07)

199x to 2008: ISO/IEC Standard 24707 for Common Logic, which evolved
       from efforts to produce ANSI standards for KIF and conceptual
       graphs during the 1990s (see SRKB above).    (08)

2005 to 2006: The IKRIS Project (Interoperable Knowledge Representation
      for Intelligence Support), which was funded by the DoD -- a group
      that has "deep pockets" so to speak.  But funding was dropped:    (09)

      http://www.jfsowa.com/ikl/    (010)

>Nobody is forcing anyone to use the W3C standards. If you or anyone else
> can come up with something better,  and persuade the world to use it, I'm
> sure they all will. But until  you (or someone else) actually makes a
> proposal, and even better,  gets some people to implement some supporting
> software, nothing will  happen.    (011)

Quite a few of us were involved in the above efforts, and many got
grants or other funding to implement something useful and/or publish
papers about it.  But that alone is not enough.    (012)

> I can attest, there is a long and painful road between griping
> about how terrible the world is, to actually doing anything to make
> it better. (And by the way, even if you build it, they will *not*
> come, unless you persuade them that there is some payback to making
> the switch, and maybe not even then.)    (013)

I agree.  But Doug Lenat didn't sit around and gripe. For the first 25
years (1984 to 2009), Cyc received $100 million to fund one person
millennium (1000 person years) of work.  They produced the biggest
formal ontology and logic-based reasoner on earth.    (014)

The Cyc software is much more extensive and impressive than anything
for the Semantic Web.  They can also show useful applications.  But
that's not enough to be commercially successful.    (015)

> [The W3C] did assume, I think correctly, that the SW must be based
> on the universal use of URIs, and its constituents would include
> marked-up documents. Which immediately introduces a host of game-
> changing issues that had not, AFAIK, arisen previously.    (016)

But Google doesn't use any SW software or conventions.  Guha now
works for Google on schema.org, which does not use URIs for the
identifiers on their type hierarchy.  They use traditional names
like Thing, DataType, Organization, MediaObject, WebPageElement.
See http://schema.org/docs/full.html    (017)

> The OWL development was largely driven by the state of the art in
> description logics, which had a 25 year pedigree in 2004...    (018)

For practical applications, the most widely used DLs in 2004 were
LOOM and PowerLoom.  Bob MacGregor explicitly said that his users
*never* asked for decidability.  Instead, they always asked for more
expressive power.  I blame the "Decidability Thought Police" for
purging SWRL and RuleML -- because they violated their ideology.    (019)

> IMO, Common Logic is vastly superior to the entire RDF/OWL/SPARQL
> suite, which in turn is superior to deployed RDB technology.    (020)

I agree that "deployed RDB" leaves a lot to be desired.  But
Ted Codd and others at the Pingree Park workshop had solutions
that combined type hierarchies with RDBs back in 1980.  But they
faced two major obstacles:  Oracle and IBM.    (021)

> However, as I have been forced to accept, my opinion is not worth
> a damn when it comes to actually getting people to use anything.
> Usability without actual use is oxymoronic.    (022)

I agree.  Around 1980, both Ted C. and I worked at IBM.  One of
his projects even used a parser I had developed.  But there are
many reasons why such a project wasn't practical in those days.    (023)

But IBM was quite interested in expert systems at that time, and
there were several active AI groups in IBM.  I had some influence
with Ted Codd and with the AI groups.  Oracle had overtaken IBM
in RDB.  If we had formulated a combined DB + AI strategy that
might compete better with Oracle, it's conceivable that we might
have sold it to IBM management.    (024)

It's too late to change anything in 1980.  But my question is
about opportunities that might be lurking today.    (025)

> Go ahead and organize it, John. Or else shut up about it.    (026)

The major product of a discussion group is talk.  What kind
of organization can produce something that people will buy?    (027)

John    (028)

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