Dear John Black et al,
Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2
On Behalf Of John Black
Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum]
LInked Data meme revisited
Recently I asserted that the sense of a word is an affordance resulting
from the execution of a process.
That is a much underspecified
specification! What process are you not naming, not defining, that
relates to “the sense of a word”? Is said process an instance
of the class Process? That is a dangling reference into no meaning.
Furthermore, I asserted that it was common
knowledge of that process that allowed for communication with a term
to exist. But now I see that common knowledge is not what is required.
So far we agree; it is NOT common
knowledge. But there are other possible explanations or causes as
well. Suppose two communicating people share one single word in common.
That means the word is a “signal” if I understand Peircean
descriptions and is noticed by each person. That does NOT mean it is the
SAME signal to each participant.
Each person has a different perceptive
spectrum of sensations, and perceives the signal as a completely different
concept than the other person perceives. So to begin with, the signaling
word is perceived differently by each.
Then each person starts an action that she
has previously executed in similar situations. But remember that each
individual, with some probability, takes a different action from among the
spectrum of action choices available to each person from her individual database
– not a SHARED database because of the different history of experiences
among the participants.
They each have INDIVIDUAL belief systems,
controlled by prior experimental learning histories, crossed against INDIVIDUAL
value systems, which by first principles describes the parties to the
In fact, since it implies some sort of representation,
which I want to replace entirely by process,
it falls into the very error I am trying to avoid. Instead, I should have
asserted that it is the shared ownership of a common process, combined with
shared inputs to that process, among a set of agents, that affords the utility
of a term, word or URI.
Your points are further underscored by the issue
If the sense of a term, word or URI is some utility afforded by a
process, then there is no need for appeal to "context".
What do you mean “some utility
afforded by a process”? Is it the same process that you referred to
in your sentence above which contains:
“the sense of a word is an affordance resulting from the
execution of a process”
I am unable to perceive a process, or how
it relates to “the sense of a word (as) an affordance”. I
understand that an affordance is a situation in which a process can begin an
action, which I take to be one step in said process. How does this
process step relate to the context of the enclosed system environment. How
can you ignore the collection of all variables and actions within the context,
but not see that as a “context”?
Instead, the process of making sense of a term needs only to be able to
accept inputs in addition to the term itself. Different values for those
inputs afford different results, the same inputs gets the same results, that's
all. No context is required.
Whoa! You are assuming that said “process”
is deterministic. You are also assuming a static process, which always
produces the same outputs for the same inputs. But that implies that the
state of the process is constant, and in that case, I would not call it a “process”
in any case. It can’t be that simple if it produces words as output
which collections of people share.
When a group of agents shares ownership of both the process and the
inputs to that process for making sense of a term, then all members of the
group are afforded a greater utility.
Those agents must be software agents,
because the human beings I have worked with are unable to reach such
unanimity. My experience in the software development world makes me
predict that the agents would have inconsistent and incompatible goals, make
designs and prototypes that demonstrate the inconsistencies and
incompatibilities. Building a large software system is an exercise in
crowd control, not in logic and abstractions.
It is an example of the network effect. I like to think of a trending
hashtag on Twitter. These have virtually no syntax, just the semantics that
results from the shared process of making sense of it given the inputs
available to all.
Of course, this is all very frustrating to people
who want universal
interoperability and understandability - that
"universal business language
translator" mentioned somewhat tongue-in-cheek(ly)
in a classic commercial
What is remarkable, in my opinion, is how effective languages are, be
they natural, formal or some hybrid.
Agreed. It seems to be the defining
capability of humans to intercommunicate in tedious, time consuming
negotiations leading to each participant changing state in small ways to match
the environment around her. Ultimately, that domestication of human
tribes has led us to this highly practiced ability to communicate at a higher
level than any other creature we know of.
The difficulty of reaching perfection is dwarfed by the ubiquity of the
utility afforded by languages.
Yes, it’s more of that cut-and-fit process
until you get a satisfactory threshold. And just what is a “satisfactory”
threshold is also UNIQUE to each INDIVIDUAL.
And I personally am very optimistic about creating machines that can
share in the utility afforded to those communities surrounding common terms -
when once we learn how to simulate the processes and inputs to those processes
that humans use to make sense of terms.
Me too, but I expect it to be slow,
tedious, filled with partial steps and setbacks, until it gets the affordance
from users to hit “start”.
The idea of using precise symbols and terminology
in science and in
programming languages is useful -- but only for a
very narrow application.
The reason why natural languages are so flexible
is that a finite vocabulary
can be adapted to an infinite range of
applications. That implies that it's
impossible (and undesirable) to force words to be
used with fixed and frozen
I don't think it will be feasible in the next
decade to find a
I would revise that point in the following way:
It will *never* be possible or desirable to
have a fixed dictionary
of precisely defined word senses for any
I would dispute that there is much difference between the difficulties
and utility of natural vs scientific or programming languages. And I
certainly hope you are not implying that it is possible to have fixed representations, definitions
or precisely defined word senses of symbols in scientific and programming
languages. I don't think it is any more than with natural languages. But
instead, here again, it is the shared ownership of a process, and inputs to that process, that afford us the
utilities of formal languages as well. In other words, it is not how
rigidly that the sense is somehow defined or represented, but how consistently the process and the inputs to
it are shared amongst agents,
which affords formal terms a more consistent utility.
Thanks for you thoughts.
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