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Re: [ontac-forum] Some thoughts on hub ontology and merging sources

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 16:31:49 -0500
Message-id: <437E4845.2000608@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Dear Matthew,    (01)

If everybody agreed to rewrite all their programs from
scratch in some new methodology, it might be possible
to enforce a totally new framework.  But even then, I
have serious doubts that the framework would remain
stable for any length of time (i.e., anything longer
than the time it takes to start a new project).    (02)

JS>> Merging two small ontologies is much, much easier.  And
 >> more importantly, if you are only looking at a specific
 >> task, it is very likely that the subsets appropriate to
 >> the task will have similar perspectives.    (03)

 > MW: This sounds just fine if all you really have is two
 > programs with one interface. But when you have hundreds to
 > thousands of programs and thousands to perhaps millions of
 > interfaces, you rapidly get an unmaintainable mess at an
 > engineering level when you consider the change that is
 > going on.    (04)

Yes, indeed.  That has been true for the past 50 years, and
the only solution anybody has suggested is "Make me the Tsar,
and I'll whip anybody who steps out of line."    (05)

But even a Tsar cannot change three things: (1) the trillions
of dollars worth of legacy systems, (2) human nature, and
(3) the universe.    (06)

 > MW: As a result you see in practice small systems being
 > merged into larger systems with a (more) common view of the
 > world. From what I have seen, this follows the need to gain
 > a better understanding of the world to achieve greater
 > capability.    (07)

I agree that we more often see small systems merged with
larger ones than the opposite.  But so far, there is no evidence
of real progress in people achieving a better understanding of
the ontology.  As evidence, I would suggest the comments that
Barry Smith and I made a few days ago about a proposed hub
ontology that was significantly inferior to what Aristotle
preached over two millennia ago.    (08)

 > MW: However, I think the integration and merging activity
 > also has its place, and is an equally natural phenomenon.    (09)

I'm not against merging and integration.  As you know, we've
all been promoting the idea for a long time.  But there has
been no evidence that a frontal attack is going to work
without a Tsar.  And even with Doug Lenat serving as the
Tsar at Cyc for over 20 years, we still don't see any
significant progress toward finding the Holy Grail.    (010)

That is why I strongly agree with Rick Murphy that a focus
on information flow is important, along with the related
principles that the cited:    (011)

RM> The more interesting of these principles include tolerance,
 > decentralization, test of independent invention, principle
 > of least power, free extension, language mixing, and partial
 > understanding.    (012)

Merging and integration are required to achieve tight coupling,
but not every system requires tight coupling.  Loose coupling is
much easier to build and maintain than tight coupling.    (013)

John    (014)

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