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   RE: [xml-dev] Beyond Ontologies

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Hi Len,

Len said:
I would say that there is no 
basis for the web in implicit or tacit ontologies.  There are people 
who have habituated themselves to certain sign/signified relationships 
and the web is a means of amplifying the speed of that habit forming 

Didier replies:
Hummm, if you look at this through the perspective of behaviorism yes you
are right. If you look at this through the lenses of cognition, there is a
mental model and a tacit ontology in their mind. Keywords people are typing
reflect their view of the world. Recently I came across this through a
site's log. Some people used "green tea weight loss" others used herbal
weight loss". You can notice here that some are using a more general term
than the others. Statistically, we can notice that about these keywords are
closer or farther than the concept they are searching for. What we can do
though is constructing a working model of this tacit ontology in order to
find what are the different keywords related to a particular concept and how
far from the concept they are. We may use possibility theory to formalize
such distance. Then, to process this we can encode it in a language able to
express this type of relation. They are not judgment call if their thinking
is right or wrong, this is simply an a posteriori model.

Len said:
That relationship exists because people are creating it and then we 
are automating a discovery of what they created.

Didier replies:
off course

Len said:
Or Saussurean semiotics.

Didier replies:
Yes from a certain perspective you are right. Reality is multi-facetted.

Len said:
Again, this is not a revolution.  It is just more of the same kind 
of thing the marketing companies have done to us and with us via other 
media since cave painting.  They infer the sign/signfier relationship, 
then manipulate the presentation to manipulate the behaviors of the 

Didier replies:
OK if the term revolution is too strong for you, let's forget it. However,
if we have the possibility to process concepts emerging from facts created
by people _and_ automated agents like search engine, we have reached a new
level of computing. I agree with you, though, that in the last 20 years AI
hasn't delivered on the initial promises. Not because these systems doesn't
work (just look at the results of Oncocyn, mycin and other similar systems)
but more because they are costly to build.

Len said:
These are made.  You are making the Platonic error of assuming these 
are real in the sense of 'from nothing'.  They are an output from a 
feedback mediated system in which the humans are the initiating source.

Didier replies:
Yes they are made and are expression of some internal process called
cognition. Who told you that I am making the platonic error of assuming
these are real? Certainly not me! I just said "there exist a corpus of
relations between >keyphrases/topics/themes/concepts". These things are
mental constructs nothing more nothing less. There is noting in this
statement that says that it existed before human beings. Simply that we can
observe, deduct, infer that there exist a corpus or relationship. And I do
not know if these are the result of a feedback loop.

Len said:
We can automate the heck out of it.  How predictive is it?

Didier replies:
Sorry, I do not know yet how predictive it is, since I am only at the
beginning of studying this phenomenon. I can only hope this research can
lead to a predictive model. Note that I said model not platonic certainties

Len said:
A University of Pennsylvania study published a fascinating study. 
When it comes to predicting conflict outcomes, role playing games 
(RPGs) beat game theory and statistical analysis three to one. For 
those who look at the semantic web and say, "so but so what", I look 
at it and say, "what a rich mine for feeding RPGs!" and realize that 
in combination with distributed online game systems (which, folks, 
are a generation or two beyond distributed hypertext or hypermedia depending
on your particular semantic community), this is an incredible area 
of innovation for commercial companies.  Keep the wetware productive. 
Blogs are just people thinking out loud.  Online gaming is people 
behaving together.  It is community building, socialization, 
and a very powerful means to predict and influence behavior.  Use 
the semantic web technology to feed metadata (situation semantics) 
to a massive RPG and you have a very powerful and influential web 

Didier replies:
Probably in that context and that purpose. But I doubt this method could be
useful when two sources on the web state something differently about the
same concept. Role playing won't help. We need another way to resolve the
issue. Science is using a certain process to resolve this kind of issues.
Can we automated that? Several proposals are on the table. OWL and RDF and
the official semantic web technologies coming from W3 do not help. Is there
a way to do it efficiently and economically? The question is open.
This said, I agree with you that role playing games are very useful to
uncover the other side motives. Being in the shoes of the other parties has
always been the basis of any negotiation process. Does it help to discover
the truth? Not necessarily. Does it help to convince or influence? Probably.
Does it help to find what statement between the following two is closer to
reality? I doubt.
a) The earth is revolving around the sun
b) The sun is revolving around the earth.
This is precisely what an active agent would have to resolve in the real
world semantic web: conflicting statement about the same reality. Is it
possible to imagine a mechanism that would help provide a solution to this
issue? I do not know, I am just exploring....

Len said:
Yes, and that is a feedback loop.  The ontology is emerging from the 
'what others are saying' because an ontology without a community of 
discourse is just a blog without context.   The machine can extract 
a faux ontology, but it requires agreement to become anything of interest.

Didier replies:
Usually a feedback loop modifies the behavior or state of an entity. To be
less fuzzy and more precise, what is modified? Is this the ranking you are
talking about? Do you mean that the resource ---> concept/class relationship
is changed because of the number of links? Is this really a feedback loop?

Len said:
The nonlinear systems effects that Roger is looking for are not in the 
web itself although it maps them much the way one maps nonlinear equations 
in n-dimensional graphics.  The web is not fractal; it maps fractal 
behaviors.  They are a result of the active interface between the 
humans who create information and the humans who consume information 
and then create more information.  The result is a drift in semantics 
which do have attractors, but which are mathematically, a lattice of 
theories.   The semantic web can be a means to equalize, tune or 
otherwise filter the signal being amplified, but it isn't the source, 
and if presented as that, that is a power grab by those who wish 
to control that signal.

Didier replies:
I do not know if the semantic web will be the source. I can only, with a
certain probability, state that if more and more data/information is
published, we'll need to know what is behind it. What is the meaning of,
what is the mental model behind this data? For instance, how can I know,
without having certain knowledge of its country of origin what could help me
understand without errors the following statements?
a) Joe is using rubbers (If this is slang I have a complete different
meaning :-)
b) Joe is a chemist (completely a different meaning if the source of this
statement is from England or from the USA)
As there is more than one English (or more than one French or more than one
Portuguese) there is more than one language. If English and American do not
agree on the same meaning for the same words(Ex: chemist) or French from
France and French from Quebec not agreeing on the same meaning for a
particular word (Ex: poudrerie), imagine the potential confusion between
totally different language and cultures. Can ontologies help? This is
precisely what I am exploring....

Didier PH Martin


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