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   RE: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML Really E xtensi

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  • To: <clbullar@ingr.com>, "Cox, Bruce" <Bruce.Cox@USPTO.GOV>
  • Subject: RE: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML Really E xtensible?
  • From: "Cox, Bruce" <Bruce.Cox@USPTO.GOV>
  • Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2003 17:29:48 -0400
  • Cc: <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Disposition-notification-to: "Cox, Bruce" <Bruce.Cox@USPTO.GOV>
  • Thread-index: AcNh3YBjbch+QDR2QdKCOA2xAQACmQABBF3Q
  • Thread-topic: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML Really E xtensible?

Sorry, I'm not a patent examiner or an attorney, so I cannot respond to
your comment about business patents or software patents, nor can I
comment on whether or not the USPTO warrants anything at all about the
technology a patent discloses.

Bruce B. Cox

-----Original Message-----
From: clbullar@ingr.com [mailto:clbullar@ingr.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2003 4:57 PM
To: Bruce.Cox@USPTO.GOV
Cc: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] Symbol Grounding and Running Code: Is XML Really
E xtensible?

Unless the USPTO understands why semantics are a big deal, and simple
symbol processing is insufficient to warrant interoperable systems, I
sincerely hope the USPTO stops granting business patents or software
patents in general because it is warranting their claims without
understanding them.

Super registries are not the answer.  Federated registries that use
namespaces to denote standard and royalty free technology can be part of
a solution. 
Not perfect, but better.


From: Bruce.Cox@USPTO.GOV [mailto:Bruce.Cox@USPTO.GOV]

Mr. Snell proposes a solution to some tough problems that Mr. Obasanjo
thinks, if they are solved, would provide sufficient grounds for
successfully mixing arbitrary namespaces (that is, provide the requisite
semantics), and Mr. Bullard points out that namespaces are being used to
attach semantics to XML.  

Having read most of this thread now, I'm convinced that terms like
"semantics" are being driven to different meanings than they can readily
support.  Just as "artificial intelligence" is an oxymoron that raises
expectations beyond the possibility of fulfilling, so do "web ontology
language" and "semantic web".  These philosophical terms, appropriated
for use outside their rightful context, are confusing what should be a
relatively simple issue, it seems to me.

Computers process symbols.  Input is rearranged into output that is
convenient for us or for other machines to process further.  Modern
society is replete with the value that this brings.

Reading Mr. Snell's outline of a solution looks to me like another layer
more) of machinery that can accommodate arbitrary namespaces provided
there is some super registry and other machinery to resolve ... .  Well,
the point is, the symbol processing machine gets bigger and more
complex.  Attaching various machine behaviors to various objects
recognized by whatever means as belonging to the appropriate class for
that behavior, is nothing more than what computers have always done,
that is, process symbols.  PhD in semantics not required.  If there
really were meanings, which usually require interpretation, the
processing would not be mechanical, the results would not be worth
paying for, and we'd have long since trashed such machines as unreliable

The expansion of the web machinery to solve problems such as the one
occasioned by RSS appears to lead to a (possibly much) more complex
machine than was anticipated when namespaces were introduced.  Do we
need to "ground the symbols"?  As others have pointed out, no.  Besides,
that happens only when a person looks at the symbols and understands
them.  Where the machine is too large and complex for any one of us to
understand, it takes a community, or an institution to understand it.
Machines, no matter how complex, cannot do this, nor do they need to.
That's our job, thank you.

I think the bigger question is, how do we pay for it?  Building a web
machine that can perform this kind of processing requires standards ever
more cosmic in scope.  Do we have the necessary experience and the
vision to see that large a picture?  Can we and our current institutions
support it or not?  Will the market embrace it, distort it, or ignore
it?  Is the benefit worth the effort?  Or can we afford to live on the
edge of wilderness for a while longer, taming it in smaller bytes?

--with my apologies if I've misrepresented anyone's comments.


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