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Re: [ontac-forum] Re: The world may fundamentally be inexplicable

To: ONTAC-WG General Discussion <ontac-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Smith, Barry" <phismith@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 14 Jan 2006 18:02:27 +0100
Message-id: <>
At 05:50 PM 1/14/2006, you wrote:
>There is no way to design an ontology for one field, say
>bioinformatics, that does not involve interoperability
>with *every* other field of endeavor known to mankind.    (01)

I think this is a reductio ad absurdum of John's position.    (02)

>BS> Is this work designed to support *all* possible applications?
> > (Pat?) Is it designed to support the work of, say, rocket
> > scientists?
>Let's start with medicine.  That involves everything that
>physicians of every specialty do, ranging from general
>practitioners, to surgery, to research, and all the
>specialists for every organ, body part, and disease.
>That leads us to biology, with emphasis on humans, but
>also with research on primates, which are cheaper than
>humans, but still expensive to maintain.  Rats and mice
>are much cheaper mammals, but some of the research can be
>performed on even cheaper animals, such as fruit flies,
>the ever-popular C. Elegans, and even lowly yeast cells.
>The pathogens lead us to bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi,
>insects, and a wide range of worms and worm-like organisms.
>Then the methods for treating them include almost every
>branch of chemistry for the development of pharmaceuticals.
>But there are also many kinds of mechanical, electrical,
>and computerized medical appliances that involve many
>more branches of physics and engineering.
>A major use for the ontology is to systematize patient
>records from physicians and hospitals around the world.
>That introduces IT issues of databases, networks, and
>security concerns about sensitive information.  The same
>computers and databases that hold patient records also
>process the patients' billing and scheduling, together
>with links to all the insurance plans, HMOs, Medicare,
>and their payment allowances for each procedure.
>As for rocket science, don't forget that NASA has to deal
>with extreme conditions for the astronauts' life support.
>The requirements for supporting the astronauts and their
>equipment impose critical constraints on the size, shape,
>structure, and maneuverability of the space vehicles.
> > The issue is, given your principles, whether anything
> > could possibly be left in the central hub. It seems not.
>I admit that we're getting close to the starting point of
>zero axioms, but the principle of distinguishing "black box"
>and "white box" components can support some separability.
>If we organize the ontology in hubs, we should consider
>clusters of hubs  -- say superhubs -- for related subfields.
> > ONTAC-WG has, I think, no specialists in quantum mechanics,
> > rocket science, magnetic resonance imaging (etc.) in its
> > target audience. Let us therefore simply forget quantum
> > mechanics, etc., and concentrate on those domains which
> > (all of us, I take it) are specialists in...
>Nobody can be a specialist in every possible area, but we must
>not only consider today's specialties, but also specialties
>that may arise in the next 20 to 40 years.    (03)

And the specialisms already existing in distinct galaxies, I presume.
BS     (04)

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