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Re: [ontolog-forum] Architectural considerations in Ontology Development

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Steven Ericsson-Zenith <steven@xxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2013 13:09:06 -0800
Message-id: <5AB21CBA-DDFB-4BB2-B544-3DA72EEDD1B2@xxxxxxx>
Dear John,    (01)

This, of course, is conventional wisdom and there can be no doubt that the 
impetus for change is economic. So it should be clear that broad change can 
only occur when the costs reduce to the level at which the return on the 
investment exceeds the costs of continuance. This can really only occur when 
there is a massive change in technologies and the methodologies associated with 
them.    (02)

A good example of this is the arguments that have been made by the formal 
methods communities that have argued quite reasonably that the up-front costs 
required to apply the methods produce subsequent cost benefits in terms of 
reduced maintenance and IT costs - along with the benefits of enhanced security 
and reliability. This argument is unacceptable because first there are few 
demonstrations that this is in fact the case and secondly the skills required 
to do the job well are uncommon.  As a result these projects do not get funded. 
I and others have certainly tried.    (03)

It really is not that many decades ago that the majority of the systems that we 
now depend upon, with only a few notable exceptions, were performed by pencil 
and paper. In addition, the investment to move from pencil and paper was 
significant and hence corporations and institutions introduce an inertia 
because it is hard to justify new investments of this kind. And so we end up 
with incrementalism not radical technology shifts. Of course, this is 
compounded by the fact that there is no comparable technology shift yet in 
clear view.    (04)

We have only had the technologies that concern us for a relatively few decades 
and so the incremental transitions you speak of as taking decades must be seen 
in this light. The "new technologies" that you speak of have so far really just 
been more of the same, faster, bigger, better organized, with increasing 
application but not innovations of the order of the technology itself - the 
invention of computing machinery and its combinaton in networks.     (05)

And so, I agree, but knowing what to look for in a solution helps. If you can 
identify a technology able to do things that cannot be done by conventional 
computing machinery - such as easy general recognition and decision making over 
large scale structures without the costs in power and integration latency that 
are required by existing machines, rather as biophysics does, then you are 
ahead.    (06)

In short, incrementalism is the only route until such new technology becomes 
feasible - and that is a long road requiring not only the new ideas but the 
manufacturing capability to execute them. The good news is that it is a steep 
curve when we get there, think Babbage -> Turing -> Today.    (07)

Best regards,
Steven    (08)

Steven Ericsson-Zenith
Institute for Advance Science & Engineering
http://iase.info    (09)

On Feb 15, 2013, at 10:44 AM, John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:    (010)

>  But none of them mentioned
> four *extremely* important points:
>  1. Trillions of dollars have been invested in legacy software that
>     runs the world economy.
>  2. That software will not be replaced for a long, long time.  In past
>     experience, the lifetime of a large, mission-critical system can be
>     40 years or more.  Its replacements must interoperate with it in
>     as smooth a transition as possible.
>  3. Every attempt to replace a critical, working system with a new
>     one that could not interoperate during the transition has failed.
>     The greater the discontinuity, the greater the ensuing disaster.
>  4. Every successful introduction of new technology interoperates with
>     the interfaces, infrastructure, and conventions of the old system
>     during an extended, incremental, and evolutionary transition.
>     The duration of that transition is usually *decades*, not years.    (011)

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