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Re: [ontolog-forum] SME (subject matter experts) and Ontology developeme

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Thomas Johnston <tmj44p@xxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:50:58 -0700
Message-id: <1426701058.77070.YahooMailNeo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Chomsky, in fact, did Wittgenstein one better, in moving on from one paradigm to another. Transformational-generative grammar turned out to require such a plethora of special-purpose rules that, in the 80's, he shifted to X-bar theory and the P&P (Principles and Parameters) paradigm. But that, too, especially the Parameters part, extended into a plethora of rules. So in the mid-nineties, he abandoned all this syntax-first top-down stuff, and announced his MP (Minimalist Program), in which the syntactic component was reduced to Move and Merge, and sentence production was at last recognized as beginning with semantic units and building them up. 

I don't pretend to understand Chomsky's theories in any depth, however. This summary is taken from Derek Bickerton's books "Language and Species", pp.57-74, and  "More Than Nature Needs" Chapter 2.

On Wednesday, March 18, 2015 1:12 PM, John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

On 3/18/2015 9:52 AM, Thomas Johnston wrote:
> re IBM giving the keys to the PC kingdom to Bill Gates. Just when you
> thought there was nothing in the sound and fury of human existence in
> the corporate world that could surprise you anymore, there's a story
> like this.

If you'd like another example, Intel was having financial difficulties
in the early 1980s.  But the sales of the PC were so strong that IBM
wanted to ensure that the supply of Intel chips would be secure.
So IBM bought a large lump of Intel shares in order to guarantee
the survival of an important supplier.

IBM not only gave Microsoft a software monopoly, they also financed
the Wintel hardware-software monopoly.

> I believe that Steve Jobs picked up the idea for using mice as
> pointing devices from the Xerox PARC people, when he was taking
> a public tour of the place. I believe they were the same guys
> who invented Ethernet. In both cases, Xerox made nothing out of
> the brilliance of those guys.

Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) was an outstanding research
center in the 1970s, and it continues to do good work.  But in the
olden days, AT&T Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, and IBM Research were the
outstanding industrial research centers in the world.

There's a huge list of brilliant innovations that came out of those
labs.  But other companies often reaped the benefits from them.
Just a *very short* subset:

  1. From AT&T:  transistors, integrated circuits, fiber optics,
    UNIX...  The guys who invented transistors in 1947 went from
    AT&T to Fairchild in 1958, where they developed integrated
    circuits.  But they weren't getting sufficient recognition
    at Fairchild, so a few of them founded Intel.

    AT&T invented fiber optics, but they didn't want to obsolete
    their huge investment in copper wire.  So they had a very slow
    and "orderly" schedule for upgrading copper to fiber optics.
    After the gov't broke up the AT&T monopoly, fiber optics took
    over rapidly, and the cost of telephone service dropped rapidly.
    AT&T didn't want that.  If the Big Bad Government hadn't
    interfered, we'd still be in Ma Bell's orderly transition.

  2. For the great majority of innovations in computer systems from the
    1950s to 1980s, some researcher(s) from IBM either invented it or
    were in the forefront of developing it.  And some other company
    was often the leader in introducing products based on it.  But
    IBM's deep pockets + patents enabled them to catch up quickly.

    As just one example:  Ted Codd was the leader in developing and
    promoting relational database theory in the late 1960s and 1970s.
    IBM research implemented a good prototype (System R), which had
    a clean, logic-based foundation.  They designed and tested several
    query languages, of which SQL was one.  And they published the
    spec's in the IBM Journal of R & D.

    The CIA liked the spec's, and they issued a BAA for bids to build
    a version.  They wrote the BAA with the expectation that IBM would
    bid for and win the contract.  But IBM's "cash cow", which sold
    huge numbers of disk drives, was the IMS DB system.  That group
    was so powerful that they did everything possible to kill any
    internal competitor.  They got the IBM lawyers to point out that
    if the government paid for the development, they would own the
    software and make it freely available.

    So a tiny little start-up was the only bidder.  Their first version
    was terrible.  The second was barely usable.  And the third, which
    was more acceptable, was released commercially as Oracle.  The gov't
    owned those three versions, but Oracle owned all the later ones.

  3. Among other things, PARC was at the forefront of AI and computer
    systems developments for years.  Their researchers moved freely
    between Stanford and PARC.  In 1973, they introduced a very nice
    PC, which pioneered the WIMPy interface (Windows, Icons, Menus,
    and Pointing device):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Alto

    They continued to develop newer versions for years, but they
    were very expensive.  And Xerox management in Rochester, NY,
    was focused on copying machines.  They had also been burned
    by buying Scientific Data Systems (SDS) in 1969 and selling
    it at a loss in 1975.  So they had no interest in PCs.

As they say, generals always prepare "to fight the last war."
Politicians write new laws for new conditions in exactly the same
way as the old laws for the old conditions.  And corporate managers
always prepare to compete with their familiar old competitors.

But don't just blame the managers.  You can go to any academic
or corporate research center and find PhDs who spend 40 years
rewriting their dissertation until they finally get it right.
In fact, Chomsky has been spending 60 years rewriting his.

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