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RE: [ontac-forum] Follow up question on Ontology, knowledge, languagecon

To: "'ONTAC-WG General Discussion'" <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Steve Hunter" <Steve@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2005 10:11:55 -0400
Message-id: <20051008141148.54741643@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

  I'll throw my 2C in as a non-PhD, philosopher, linguist, ontological
theorist, but as a person who has applied knowledge engineering to practical
issues as context for points I make below.    (01)

-       Creating a unified upper ontology, without consensus of the creators
of the leading upper ontology's, is unlikely. The paper on Knowledge Soup
demonstrates that there are various techniques for encoding knowledge and
reasoning about it. There is no consensus in the community as to which is
appropriate and vigorous defense about whose is most correct, therefore, I
suspect if you ask the thought leaders who developed the various upper
ontology's and their encoding schemes to give up theirs for one unified
ontology, it would never happen. Adam Pease stated that the group should
just pick an upper ontology, so, if we pick Cyc vs SUMO, will Adam convert
his focus and technology towards using Cyc.I doubt it.     (02)

-       Commercialization will happen when the focus is first problems, and
second research. A complaint was voiced about the lack of commercial
adoption of the ontological work that has been developed over the past 20
years, citing Cyc in particular. The focus of Cyc, and much of the
AI'sh/ontology work, has been concentrated on finding ways to replicate
human thought which by its nature is a very "researchy" activity. In Cyc's
defense, their mission to create the world's first "thinking machine", is a
research activity. The company is made up of PhD's, philosopher's,
linguist's, and ontological theorist's who are interested in doing research.
Cyc's mission does not reflect any intent to provide a commercial product to
solve any particular problem. They have been funded by research dollars for
many years and it's not an inappropriate use of funds, if the expectation is
furthering understanding in their field of research. Further, it is
difficult to convert a research organization into a commercial organization
because things that must be done to be commercially successful will conflict
with the purest mentality of researchers (researchers have a hard time with
"its good enough".Microsoft has no problem putting out product that is buggy
and fixing it in the next release.and by all measures, they are commercially
successful).    (03)

-       The community will benefit by expanding its focus beyond a limited
set of hard problems. The concentration of effort tends towards natural
language processing (understanding meaning of documents mostly), and the
drive towards self-aware machines. Real-world problems exist outside of
those domains which could be helped with the use of techniques developed in
this community. For example, the practice of enterprise architecture (EA)
benefits from the use of ontology. It could be further enriched by
leveraging higher-order encoding of knowledge and inference. However,
architects will never require the computer encoded knowledge bases they use
to do their jobs infer the meaning of life. I believe this is relevant to
the FEA and DRM because those taxonomies can (and should) be further
enriched into ontology with additional axioms, but do not have to be
considered at a deep level of meaning. In some (many IMHO) cases a
consistent description of a concept placed in context simply by the persons
describing the concept (as the authoritative sources for the description),
or via a dictionary, are sufficient. The issue enterprise architecture deals
with most often is not trying to resolve the meaning of Application but the
labels for that concept.some name it System, some name it AppSystem, some
name it Application so the ability to determine how many Applications an
enterprise contains is made difficult because we don't have an authoritative
source for 1 name 1 concept.     (04)

So, I'd like to see a bit of working backwards from some problems the
government wants solved, to how ontology can help. A perfect example is the
GSA EEIRS RFP's for directory/search capability for ad-hoc creation of
groups to solve emergencies. The assumption of that RFP is that it is not
necessary to use ontology to accomplish the task and they seek to prove (or
disprove) that point. My view is that it is impossible to solve the issues
in that RFP without ontology so it's a perfect place for the community to
make that point.     (05)

 Steve    (06)

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