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Re: [ontolog-forum] Universal Basic Semantic Structures

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Patrick Cassidy" <pat@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2012 07:11:58 -0400
Message-id: <06c101cd8c20$6ed3f880$4c7be980$@com>
Just a note in response to some of John Sowa's remarks about Gellish:    (01)

[JS]  >>  The goals are important, and I believe that Andries has put
>> together an impressive system of interrelated ideas.  
>> I believe that Gellish contains a lot of good material that is worth 
>> My major concern is that it is YASS -- Yet Another Semantic Structure
>> that is designed to solve all the world's problems -- but ONLY IF 
>> the entire world swallows it whole and converts everything to it overnight.
>> The biggest YASS of all is Cyc, which had one person millennium of 
>> work invested in it as of 2010.  Cyc is very impressive.  It has
>>  implemented many things very well, and Doug is better able to explain 
>> those than I am.  But as we have seen, it still has not been swallowed whole.    (02)

I agree with this assessment.  Just building a reasonable semantic structure 
is, based on experience, unlikely to lead to its wide adoption, no matter how 
technically capable or sophisticated.    (03)

[JS] >>  Meanwhile, much less tightly organized things such as Linked Open 
>> Data have had a much faster uptake with a much looser organization. 
>>  The question of how to combine ideas from LOD with any of the many
>> YASSes is still an unanswered research issue.    (04)

  Yes again.  I have made my analysis in this forum on several occasions, and 
will repeat it here in this context.
(1) an ontology (or any other semantic structure) intended for interoperability 
among systems must be agreed to explicitly by all of those who want to (or 
should) use it;
(2)  the best way to get buy-in is to make it possible for those who use it to 
modify it to their purposes without creating the kind of ambiguity and synonymy 
found in natural languages; (current semantic web efforts have too little 
control to avoid those problems)
(3) the best way to allow such universal applicability is to focus the common 
semantic language on those primitives that are required to logically specify 
the meanings of all of the terms in the domain languages, and to keep a public 
inventory of those logical specifications.
(4) such an inventory of primitives will constitute a foundation ontology that 
will represent a set of basic concepts sufficient to logically specify the 
meanings of almost all terms in any domain ontology;
(5) any missing primitives required for new domains can be added;
(6) logically inconsistent theories can be represented **as theories** -- i.e., 
not as part of the fundamental "belief" system of the foundation ontology.
(7) focusing on the primitive concept representations keeps the learning curve 
as shallow as possible by keeping the number of elements to be learned to the 
smallest set that will do the job.    (05)

   In effect, a common ontology is a language and a language is not usually 
imposed from above, but developed by agreement among the users, based on common 
usage.  The problem with a logical language for interoperability is to avoid 
ambiguity and synonymy, an absolute plague when every person or small community 
tries to do their own thing (as with human languages)    (06)

    The problem is how to develop a community that will agree to such a common 
ontology, and build applications demonstrating that the ontology will in fact 
serve to enable accurate interoperability.   "let a thousand flowers bloom" 
results in a thousand isolated flowers blooming in a thousand isolated gardens.
    Any of several large organizations could probably create the critical mass 
of users for some primitives-based foundation ontology: Microsoft, Google, 
Oracle, IBM, or a large government agency - in the US, Europe, or perhaps China?    (07)

   I hope I live to see the day.    (08)

Pat    (09)

Patrick Cassidy
908-561-3416    (010)

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