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Re: [ontolog-forum] Truth

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 09 Jul 2012 23:05:41 -0400
Message-id: <4FFB9C05.3060500@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Leo and Kingsley,    (01)

I'm responding to both of your notes because they address two aspects
of a disease that I believe has been destroying the Semantic Web.    (02)

In short, the Semantic Web is first and foremost an engineering problem,
but it has been infected by certain scientists who forced the engineers
to adopt inappropriate solutions to their problems -- or even worse,
to ignore certain important kinds of problems.    (03)

> Motik, Boris. 2005. On the Properties of Metamodeling in OWL.
> In: 4th Int. Semantic Web Conf. (ISWC 2005).
>http://dip.semanticweb.org/documents/Boris-Motik-On-the-Properties-of-Metamodeling-in-OWL.pdf    (04)

I attended a talk by Boris Motik, and I spoke with him.  He is very good
at what he does.  This paper demonstrates his technical ability.  But
like nearly all of the DL theoreticians, he knows nothing about how to
develop applications or what practitioners would ever find useful.    (05)

He is very good at proving theorems about decidability, but nobody has
shown that restricting a language to make it decidable is useful for
any purpose whatsoever.  Restricting a language cannot solve anything
faster.  It only makes certain kinds of problems impossible to state.    (06)

Cyc has had far more experience in working on actual problems than
any of the DL theoreticians ever dreamed of.  And they have *never*
found decidability to be a problem.  Bob MacGregor developed the widely
used LOOM and PowerLoom systems, which combined a DL with a rule-based
system and with bindings to programming languages and databases.    (07)

MacGregor worked with users who actually used his systems to develop
major applications.  And he said that *none* of the users ever asked
for decidability, but they all asked for more expressive power.
The net result is that the "Decidability Thought Police" purged
MacGregor from their community.    (08)

Decidability is the single worst disease that has destroyed the
usefulness of the SW.  When I look at Motik's paper, I see disease.
There is nothing in that paper that is of the slightest value for
any practical application of any kind.  It makes me angry that
those people have been destroying what might have been a very
useful development, if they had left the SW to the engineers.    (09)

>> Note that Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft abandoned URIs.    (010)

> If that's true, they are making a *serious mistake*. Basically,
> they are veering away from the point you made earlier:
> "The big advance was the instant, universal, world-wide
> availability of data everywhere."    (011)

Let me clarify.  It is extremely valuable to have URIs for
"named entities" such as people, places, things, and documents.
The technology for detecting named entities in documents and
annotating them with the appropriate URIs has become quite
successful, and I strongly recommend continuing it.    (012)

But the idea of assigning a unique URI to every word sense of
every word is impossible.  Not even a professional lexicographer
can do that reliably, and the exercise would be worse than useless.    (013)

Furthermore, science has found it extremely valuable to continue
using the same words -- even though their meanings change from
one theory to another.  All the major words in physics change
their definitions as you go from Newtonian mathematics to
relativity, quantum mechanics, string theory, etc:  mass, energy,
momentum, force, position, velocity, acceleration, light,
charge, heat, etc.    (014)

But physicists continue to use the same words throughout every
change of theory.  It would be worse than useless to change
their words (or annotate them) each time they change anything
in their theories.    (015)

I have more examples about the diseases that scientists have
inflicted on the SW.  But this is enough for now.    (016)

John    (017)

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