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Re: [cuo-wg] Resolving Jim Hendler's comments on paper

To: "common upper ontology working group" <cuo-wg@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "Schoening, James R C-E LCMC CIO/G6" <James.Schoening@xxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Cory Casanave" <cory-c@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2007 16:57:50 -0500
Message-id: <4F65F8D37DEBFC459F5A7228E50520441550D8@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
I think you are on-target with respect to the import of a universal identity 
for concepts.  Some of the ontology languages have such sophistication in terms 
of logic, but they are expressed as, essentially, a file and that file is 
acting as an implied boundary on the theory.  In considering problems in the 
large this file based approach simply does not scale and the SW is providing us 
with a way that does.  Lets try and embrace this capability.      (01)

I also agree with Jim that A LOT can be done with what exists, and we have not 
done a good job of being clear about what can and can not (Something I said I 
would try and start but have not had the bandwidth to do).    (02)

There is an assumptions in Jim's message that I don't think is valid, one that 
is typically aimed against any standard - upper ontology or not it is "everyone 
must agree".  The assumption being that the process of an upper ontology is by 
necessity wide-scale consensus.  This is one possible approach, another is 
"open market".  An upper ontology could be asserted by one individual, if it 
was found of value others would use it, it would get "a community" like a 
successful standard. This then becomes a binding point for that community - 
that community has "agreed" by use.  If there were 10,000 of these nothing 
would be accomplished, but if there were 10 of these - now we only have 10 
things to worry about - and I bet some of those would be mapped to another.  
(What if we provided a process and infrastructure for this kind of marketplace 
of common concepts?)    (03)

We can do a bit better that this lone ontologist, we can start with a small 
community that agrees, some people will drop out if they don't agree with that 
group - ok.  If this community develops common concepts that make it in the 
marketplace - great.  Any commonality and agreement is better than none.  No 
laws, no "everybody agrees", but we can still have common concepts and upper 
ontologies (if those are what solves peoples problems). Sumo, Dolce, Cyc, 
WorldNet and others are already making a difference in this way.  So the point 
is to continue to try, continue to bring together and/or map what can be 
brought together - let the communities build.  But, if you don't try failure is 
guaranteed.    (04)

-Cory    (05)

-----Original Message-----
From: cuo-wg-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:cuo-wg-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On 
Behalf Of Pat Hayes
Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 3:08 PM
To: Schoening, James R C-E LCMC CIO/G6
Cc: cuo-wg@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [cuo-wg] Resolving Jim Hendler's comments on paper    (06)

>       Jim Hendler (the Semantic Web guru) provided the below comments 
>to the attached paper.
>       We'll soon resolve all his technical
>comments, but let's first address his bottom line (found in last 
>               "I think the bottom line is that
>I buy your argument if you were saying current
>               technology defined as DL
>reasoners manipulating OWL assertions, but that's not
>               what the Semantic Web is all
>about, and the URI-based reference mechanism
>               coupled with the standard for KR
>and other aspects is aimed exactly at
>Request: Let's more than one of us try to explain what he refers to as 
>"URI-based reference mechanism coupled with the standard for KR."    (07)

OK, here's my take on that.    (08)

First, "standard for KR". I think all that Jim means is, the SWeb is intended 
to use whatever is the best available KR mechanism that can be adopted as a 
'standard', ie which a wide enough spectrum of users can be persuaded to agree 
to use. No such choice will be free from controversy. OWL wasn't and isn't free 
from controversy, and nobody even knows if a large enough community can ever be 
brought to consensus on an acceptable Rule language. But assuming that some WG 
can get its job completed, and produces a useful notation, then that can be 
used on the SWeb. There are plenty of potential candidates which are way more 
expressive than OWL readily available. So it would be a mistake to identify the 
SWeb vision with OWL or DL technology in particular. OWL-DL is just the first 
in what one hopes will be an evolving series of KR standards which will provide 
the infrastructure of the SWeb. Perhaps the next one will be more like 
Python+Prolog on steroids. Or it may be a
breakthrough in CL reasoners using the guarded fragment, who knows? The 
decision is as much political as technical, or even subject to whims of 
intellectual fashion.    (09)

"URI-based reference mechanism" is more interesting. This is one of the few 
things that really is new and different about the SWeb: it is part of the Web, 
and subject to Web conventions and protocols. It isn't *just* applied ontology 
engineering. So, every SWeb ontology is required to use names drawn from a 
(literally) global set of names. The scope of these names is the entire Web. 
There are no 'locally scoped' or 'private' 
names on the Sweb. So if your ontology uses a name for a concept, my ontology 
can use it too. 
Anyone can 'say' anything about everyone else's concepts, on the Sweb. This is 
a whole new game, which nobody has played before. A can introduce a concept 
called A:thingie1 and B can introduce B:thingie2, and C can then, entirely 
independently and without asking for A or B's permission, assert that (say) 
A:thingie1 is the same as B:thingie2. A and B may disagree: tough tittie, they 
can't stop C from making the assertion. C can say things about A's ontology, in 
fact, such as assert that it is all BS. The globality of the namespace has a 
whole range of consequences which we are only beginning to explore. And being 
URIs (actually IRIs these
days) , these names can also be used as identifiers which *access* things on 
the Web. 
Whether these accessed things should be the referents of the names is currently 
controversial (I think not, in general), but that they access
*something* is not even remotely at issue. So SWeb concept names have a whole 
new dimensionality to them, which is (or at any rate can be) orthogonal to 
their use as referring names. In particular, it allows ontologies to "address" 
other ontologies (a pale version of which is the OWL:imports primitive, but one 
can do a lot more than this), which obviously has many potential applications 
relevant to scaling.    (010)

Hope this helps.    (011)

BTW, I entirely agree with Jim's optimism. I think people are way too scared of 
inconsistencies. Lets wait and see what problems actually crop up before trying 
to solve or avoid ones that we only worry about rather than actually find.    (012)

Pat    (013)

>Jim Schoening
>U.S. Army C-E LCMC CIO/G6 Office
>Voice: DSN 992-5812 or (732) 532-5812
>Fax: DSN 992-7551 or (732) 532-7551
>Email: James.Schoening@xxxxxxxxxxx
>     At 5:35 PM -0500 1/29/07, Jim Hendler wrote [to Jim Schoening]:
>>James - Interesting paper, fwiw, I couldn't disagree more.   You
>>make the mistake, which is common and being pushed by a number of 
>>strong players <<snip>>, of assuming that only with some kind of 
>>common semantic model can data be integrated - problem is the same 
>>argument you use as to why this is so (the scaling arguments) were 
>>very similar to the arguments made on why the WWW wouldn't work a decade or 
>so ago.
>>Think of it this way - if I coudl create a set of local mappings 
>>across a wide array of linked (but not all linked) data sources then I 
>>could indeed do cross domain integration - not with full fidelity - 
>>but that's where your mistake lies - when I ask Google to find things, 
>>I don't care if it finds all and only the right thing - I want it to 
>>take me closer to a correct starting point for exploration, and I 
>>don't demand (or in fact want) 100%
>>precision or recall.   I don't have time for details,
>>   <<snip>>
>>   -JH
>At 10:33 AM -0500 1/30/07, Jim Hendler wrote [to SICoP]:
>>I guess I should mention here something I told the author separately - 
>>I don't agree with many of the conclusions of this paper, and think 
>>there are some flaws - I don't have time for a detailed response - but 
>>let me point out that if you made this same argument by analogy for 
>>hypertext systems (lack of standards, disagreement in worlds views, 
>>different technologies) then you could clearly demonstrate that a 
>>world wide web of billions of documents linked to each other to be 
>>used in multiple contexts would be impossible (how would you find 
>>anything??) - the analogy isn't perfect, and there are some valid 
>>points made in the paper - but it buys way too heavily into the 
>>assumption that no integration can take place without complete (and 
>>consistent) semantic agreement - and that's the part I cannot agree 
>>with, that doesn't appear to be true in practice, and that has been 
>>being used by many critics from the traditional ontology space (where 
>>that assumption is
>>made) to argue that you can't do data integration at a large scale with
>>the approaches we're exploring.   I've said this many
>>times in many contexts - Tim Berners-Lee (who never listened to those 
>>skeptics who explained why the Web wouldn't work) and Eric Miller and 
>>I addressed this issue in some degree in the paper at [1] ad of course 
>>I've written and talked a lot about this. So before you all throw out 
>>the baby with the bathtub, I thought I would mention that there are 
>>contradicting views
>>    -Jim H
>>p.s. Actually, probably the best argument I made as to why we couldn't 
>>ever succeed with any kind of "everyone must agree" (standard upper
>>ontology) approach was in the original brief to the Director where I 
>>convinced DARPA to invest in the DAML program  - so this isn't 
>>something new, and those who've heard me at the Semantic Web in E-gov 
>>conferences have heard this argument.
>At 1:12 PM -0500 1/30/07, Jim Hendler wrote [to Jim Schoening]:
>basically same thing basic argument as I put on the list, but a little 
>stronger in my comments on upper ontology...  Sorry to weigh in so 
>strong, but I think you really missed a lot of the point of the Sem Web 
>technologies and how they were designed precisely to provide the 
>capabilities you say they don't.  I certainly don't think they are the 
>be-all and end-all, but they move us much further than you give them 
>credit for - part of the problem is you completely miss the key aspect 
>of these languages as opposed to previous AI languages, which is the 
>URI basis - they are "webized" in a deep and important way - the 
>linking of concepts (where ontologies can link to concepts in
>others) provides a
>mechanism you've largely missed.   I realize I
>had the opportunity to weigh in to some of this stuff in SICOP, but 
>I've had the debate with Leo and others ongoing for the past 6 years 
>and they still haven't gotten it and I get tired of having the same 
>arguments over and over.  The good news is the large players are 
>beginning to get it (not only Oracle and IBM in DB systems, but MS and 
>others are starting to use RDF DBs because they need the flexibility 
>and the
>linking) so I've given up on arguing in closed circles - I still write 
>articles and give plenty of talks
>   the key is, like the web, learning to live with inconsistency and 
>ambiguity, rather than claiming you can't do integration in its 
>   -JH
>At 12:08 AM 1/31/07, Jim Hendler wrote [to SICoP]:
>The goal of that paper is to claim (and later papers have more details) 
>that the current technology is exactly aimed at achieving 
>interoperability at the semantic level at a Web Scale, which certainly 
>subsumes large enterprises
>with many domains.   I've published several
>papers on this ranging from vision papers like the Scientific American 
>article and the agents on the semantic web (google scholar for Semantic 
>Web finds these) and more technical ones - our technical papers are at 
>There's obviously no way to prove that ?X can be done with current 
>technology, what I'm arguing against is your equally unprovable 
>contention that it can't.  What I do believe is your arguments ignore 
>significant aspects of current technology (esp. the Semantic Web work) 
>that take it much further towards what you are claiming it cannot 
>achieve than you seem to think.  I don't have time to recap all the 
>arguments here, but I think the bottom line is that I buy your argument 
>if you were saying current technology defined as DL reasoners 
>manipulating OWL assertions, but that's not what the Semantic Web is 
>all about, and the URI-based reference mechanism coupled with the 
>standard for KR and other aspects is aimed exactly at scalability.
>I don't have time for a long email discussion on this right now, I 
>simpl wanted to remind the forum that there is argument with your 
>contention, and that not everyone agrees (both of which are self 
>evident arguments).
>I leave it to the readers of your paper to think about these issues - 
>that's all.
>   -Jim H.
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>Interoperability#E3CF6.doc (WDBN/«IC») (000E3CF6)
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