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Formal Ontology and Information Systems

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Title: Formal Ontology and Information Systems


1
Formal Ontology and Information Systems
  • Barry Smith
  • http//ifomis.de

2
  • Part I Research in Formal Ontology
  • Part II Some Implications for Agent-Based and
    Situated Computing

3
(No Transcript)
4
Part I
  • Institute for Formal Ontology and Medical
    Information Science
  • (IFOMIS)
  • Faculty of Medicine
  • University of Leipzig
  • http//ifomis.de

5
The Idea
  • Computational medical research
  • will transform the discipline of medicine
  • but only if communication problems can be solved

6
Medicine
  • desperately needs to find a way
  • to enable the huge amounts of data
  • resulting from trials by different groups
  • to be (f)used together

7
How resolve incompatibilities?
  • ONTOLOGY the solution of first resort
  • (compare kicking a television set)
  • But what does ontology mean?
  • Current most popular answer a collection of
    terms and definitions satisfying constraints of
    description logic

8
Description logic
  • a decidable logic
  • (thus much weaker than first-order predicate
    logic)
  • for manipulating hierarchies of concepts/general
    terms)

9
Example The Enterprise Ontology
  • A Sale is an agreement between two Legal-Entities
    for the exchange of a Product for a Sale-Price.
  • A Strategy is a Plan to Achieve a high-level
    Purpose.
  • A Market is all Sales and Potential Sales within
    a scope of interest.

10
Harvard Business Review, October 2001
  • Trying to engage with too many partners too
    fast is one of the main reasons that so many
    online market makers have foundered. The
    transactions they had viewed as simple and
    routine actually involved many subtle
    distinctions in terminology and meaning

11
Example Medical Nomenclature
  • Unified Medical Language System (UMLS)
  • blood is a tissue
  • Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED)
  • blood is a fluid

12
Example Statements of Accounts
  • Company Financial statements may be prepared
    under either the (US) GAAP or the (European) IASC
    standards
  • These allocate cost items to different
    categories depending on the laws of the countries
    involved.

13
Job
  • to develop an algorithm for the automatic
    conversion of income statements and balance
    sheets between the two systems.
  • Not even this relatively simple problem has been
    satisfactorily resolved
  • why not?

14
Example The Gene Ontology (GO)
  • hormone GO0005179
  • digestive hormone GO0046659
  • peptide hormone GO0005180 adrenocorticotrop
    in GO0017043 glycopeptide hormone
    GO0005181 follicle-stimulating hormone
    GO0016913

15
as tree
  • hormone
  • digestive hormone peptide hormone
  • adrenocorticotropin
    glycopeptide hormone

  • follicle-stimulating hormone

16
Problem There exist multiple databases
  • genomic
  • cellular
  • structural
  • phenotypic
  • and even for each specific type of information,
    e.g. DNA sequence data, there exist several
    databases of different scope and organisation

17
What is a gene?
  • GDB a gene is a DNA fragment that can be
    transcribed and translated into a protein
  • Genbank a gene is a DNA region of biological
    interest with a name and that carries a genetic
    trait or phenotype
  • (from Schulze-Kremer)
  • GO does not tell us which of these is correct,
    or indeed whether either is correct, and it does
    not tell us how to integrate data from the
    corresponding sources

18
Example The Semantic Web
  • Vast amount of heterogeneous data sources
  • Need dramatically better support at the level of
    metadata
  • The ability to query and integrate across
    different conceptual systems
  • The currently preferred answer is The Semantic
    Web, based on description logic
  • will not work
  • How tag blood? how tag gene?

19
Application ontology
  • cannot solve the problems of database
    integration
  • There can be no mechanical solution to the
    problems of data integration
  • in a domain like medicine
  • or in the domain of really existing commercial
    transactions

20
The problem in every case
  • is one of finding an overarching framework for
    good definitions,
  • definitions which will be adequate to the
    nuances of the domain under investigation

21
Application ontology
  • Ontologies are Applications running in real time

22
Application ontology
  • Ontologies are inside the computer
  • thus subject to severe constraints on expressive
    power
  • (effectively the expressive power of description
    logic)

23
Application ontology cannot solve the
data-integration problem
  • because of its roots in knowledge
    representation/knowledge mining

24
different conceptual systems
25
need not interconnect at all
26
we cannot make incompatible concept-systems
interconnect
just by looking at concepts, or knowledge we
need some tertium quid
27
Application ontology
  • has its philosophical roots in Quines doctrine
    of ontological commitment and in the internal
    metaphysics of Carnap/Putnam
  • Roughly, for an application ontology the world
    and the semantic model are one and the same
  • What exists what the system says exists

28
Quineanism
  • ontology is the study of the ontological
    commitments or presuppositions embodied in
    scientific theories (or in the beliefs of
    experts)

29
Quineanism, too, faces the integration problem
  • If an ontology is the set of ontological
    commitments of a theory, how can we cope with
    questions pertaining to the relations between the
    objects to which different theories are
    committed?
  • (Recall the Vienna Circle program of the Unity
    of Science)

30
What is needed
  • is some sort of wider common framework
  • sufficiently rich and nuanced to allow concept
    systems deriving from different theoretical/data
    sources to be hand-callibrated

31
What is needed
  • is not an Application Ontology
  • but
  • a Reference Ontology
  • (something like old-fashioned metaphysics)

32
Reference Ontology
  • An ontology is a theory of a domain of entities
    in the world
  • Ontology is outside the computer
  • seeks maximal expressiveness and adequacy to
    reality
  • and sacrifices computational tractability for
    the sake of representational adequacy

33
Belnap
  • it is a good thing logicians were around before
    computer scientists
  • if computer scientists had got there first,
    then we wouldnt have numbers
  • because arithmetic is undecidable

34
It is a good thing
  • Aristotelian metaphysics was around before
    description logic, because otherwise
  • we would have only hierarchies of
  • concepts/universals/classes and no individual
    instances

35
Reference Ontology
  • a theory of the tertium quid
  • called reality
  • needed to hand-callibrate database/terminology
    systems

36
Methodology
  • Get ontology right first
  • (realism descriptive adequacy rather powerful
    logic)
  • solve tractability problems later

37
The Reference Ontology Community
  • IFOMIS (Leipzig)
  • Laboratories for Applied Ontology (Trento/Rome,
    Turin)
  • Foundational Ontology Project (Leeds)
  • Ontology Works (Baltimore)
  • BORO Program (London)
  • Ontek Corporation (Buffalo/Leeds)
  • LandC (Belgium/Philadelphia)

38
Domains of Current Work
  • IFOMIS Leipzig Medicine
  • Laboratories for Applied Ontology
  • Trento/Rome Ontology of Cognition/Language
  • Turin Law
  • Foundational Ontology Project Space, Physics
  • Ontology Works Genetics, Molecular Biology
  • BORO Program Core Enterprise Ontology
  • Ontek Corporation Biological Systematics
  • LandC NLP

39
Recall
  • GDB a gene is a DNA fragment that can be
    transcribed and translated into a protein
  • Genbank a gene is a DNA region of biological
    interest with a name and that carries a genetic
    trait or phenotype
  • (from Schulze-Kremer)

40
Ontology
  • Note that terms like fragment, region,
    name, carry, trait, type
  • along with terms like part, whole,
    function, substance, inhere
  • are ontological terms in the sense of traditional
    (philosophical) ontology

41
Some Historical Background
42
Aristotle
First ontologist

43
First ontology (from Porphyrys Commentary on
Aristotles Categories)
44
Linnaean Ontology
45
Edmund Husserl
46
Formal Ontology
  • term coined by Husserl
  • the theory of those ontological structures
  • such as part-whole, universal-particular
  • which apply to all domains whatsoever
  • Formal ontology theory of things
  • Formal logic theory of truths

47
Husserl outlines a new method of constituent
ontology
  • to study a domain ontologically
  • is to establish the parts of the domain
  • and the interrelations between them
  • especially the dependence relations
  • (assembly structures, modules)

48
Ontological Dependence
  • a wife is dependent on a husband
  • a king is dependent on his subjects
  • a color is dependent on an extension
  • a charge is dependent on a conductor
  • a speech act is dependent on a speaker

49
Logical Investigations1900/01
  • Aristotelian theory of universals and particulars
  • theory of part and whole
  • theory of ontological dependence
  • the theory of boundaries and fusion

50
Formal Ontology
  • contrasted with material or regional ontologies
  • (compare relation between pure and applied
    mathematics)
  • Husserls idea
  • If we can build a good formal ontology, this
    should save time and effort in building reference
    ontologies for each successive domain

51
Roman Ingarden
  • Material Ontology
  • Theory of Causality
  • Theory of Relatively Isolated Systems

52
Organisms
  • order to be able to sustain themselves
    effectively as identical through time, must be at
    least in some respects bounded off from the
    surrounding world and partially isolated or
    shielded from it.

53
Each multi-cellular organism
  • is a system of relatively isolated causal systems
    organized in modular fashion in such a way as to
    contain within itself further relatively isolated
    causal systems on successively lower levels.
  • The systems within this modular hierarchy are
    both partially interconnected (they collaborate
    in their functioning)
  • and also partially segregated via coverings or
    membranes which protect their interiors from
    certain external influences and also allow other
    kinds of influences and substances to pass
    through them

54
Bodily systems
  • are not absolutely closed off from each other
    they are partially open and partially shielded.
  • There are paths between them along which a
    certain restricted spectrum of causal influences
    and substances may flow.
  • Each sense organ is a partially open system
    which is attuned to a special selection of
    outside processes and at the same time also
    shielded in other respects.

55
Basic Formal Ontology
  • BFO
  • The Vampire Slayer

56
Basic Formal Ontology
  • Aristotelian theory of universals and instances
  • theory of part and whole
  • theory of ontological dependence
  • theory of boundary, continuity and contact/fusion
  • theory of states, powers, qualities, roles,
    functions, systems
  • dual ontology of endurants and perdurants
  • theory of environments/niches/contexts and
    spatial and spatio-temporal regions

57
BFO
  • not just a system of categories
  • but a formal theory
  • with definitions, axioms, theorems
  • designed to provide the resources for reference
    ontologies for specific domains
  • the latter should be of sufficient richness that
    terminological incompatibilities can be resolves
    intelligently rather than by brute force

58
Three types of reference ontology
  • 1. formal ontology framework for definition of
    the highly general concepts such as object,
    event, part employed in every domain
  • 2. domain ontology, a top-level theory with a few
    highly general concepts from a particular domain,
    such as genetics or medicine
  • 3. terminology-based ontology, a very large
    theory embracing many concepts and inter-concept
    relations

59
MedO medical domain ontology
  • universals and instances and normativity
  • theory of part and whole and absence
  • theory of ontological dependence
  • theory of boundaries/membranes
  • theory of states, powers, qualities, roles,
    (mal)functions, bodily systems
  • dual ontology of endurants and perdurants
    anatomy and physiology
  • theory of environments inside and outside the
    organism

60
MedO
  • including sub-ontologies
  • cell ontology
  • drug ontology
  • protein ontology
  • gene ontology

61
and sub-ontologies
  • anatomical ontology
  • epidemiological ontology
  • disease ontology
  • therapy ontology
  • pathology ontology
  • the whole designed to give structure to the
    medical domain
  • (currently medical education comparable to
    stamp-collecting)

62
If sub-domains like these
  • cell ontology
  • drug ontology
  • protein ontology
  • gene ontology
  • are to be knitted together within a single
    theory,
  • then we need also a theory of granularity

63
Testing the BFO/MedO approach
  • within a software environment for NLP of
    unstructured patient records
  • collaborating with
  • Language and Computing nv (www.landc.be)

64
LC
  • LinKBase worlds largest terminology-based
    ontology
  • incorporating UMLS, SNOMED, etc.
  • LinKFactory suite for developing and managing
    large terminology-based ontologies

65
LCs long-term goal
  • Transform the mass of unstructured patient
    records into a gigantic medical experiment

66
LinKBase
  • LinKBase still close to being a flat list
  • BFO and MedO designed to add depth, and so also
    reasoning capacity
  • by tagging LinKBase terms with corresponding
    BFO/MedO categories
  • by constraining links within LinKBase
  • by serving as a framework for establishing
    relations between near-synonyms within LinKBase
    derived from different source nomenclatures

67
So what is the ontology of blood?
68
We cannot solve this problem just by looking at
concepts (by engaging in further acts of
knowledge mining)
69
concept systems may be simply incommensurable
70
the problem can only be solved
by taking the world itself into account
71
A reference ontology
  • is a theory of reality
  • But how is this possible?
  • How can we get beyond our concepts?
  • answer ontology must be maximally opportunistic

72
Maximally opportunistic
  • means
  • draw on 2 millennia of philosophical research
  • pertaining to realism, scepticism, error, theory
    change, and the language/concept/world relation
  • but also pertaining to the structure of reality
    itself and to the relations between different
    scientific disciplines

73
Maximally opportunistic
  • means
  • dont just look at beliefs
  • look at the objects themselves
  • from every possible direction,
  • formal and informal
  • scientific and non-scientific

74
It means further
  • looking at concepts and beliefs critically
  • and always in the context of a wider view which
    includes independent ways to access the objects
    at issue at different levels of granularity
  • including physical ways (involving the use of
    physical measuring instruments)

75
And also
  • taking account of tacit knowledge of those
    features of reality of which the domain experts
    are not consciously aware
  • look not at concepts, representations, of a
    passive observer
  • but rather at agents, at organisms acting in the
    world

76
Maximally opportunistic
  • means
  • look not at what the expert says
  • but at what the expert does
  • Experts have expertise knowing how
  • Ontologists skilled in extracting knowledge that
    from knowing how
  • The experts dont know what the ontologist knows

77
Maximally opportunistic
  • means
  • look at the same objects at different levels of
    granularity

78
We then recognize
  • that the same object can be apprehended at
    different levels of granularity
  • at the perceptual level blood is a liquid
  • at the cellular level blood is a tissue

79
select out the good conceptualizations
  • those which have a reasonable chance of being
    integrated together into a single ontological
    system because they are
  • based on tested principles
  • robust
  • conform to natural science

80
Partitions should be cuts through reality
  • a good medical ontology should NOT be compatible
    with a conceptualization of disease as caused by
    evil spirits

81
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82
Part Two
  • Some Implications of Reference Ontology
  • for Agent-Based and Situated Computing

83
Agents
  • organisms and (relatively isolated) computer
    systems
  • situated in an environment
  • capable of flexible, autonomous action in that
    environment
  • interacting with other agents, including
  • communicating, negotiating, coordinating
  • often within some organizational context (e.g. a
    marketplace)

84
  • The agent interacts with its environment in two
    ways
  • 1. it gathers sensory input throughsensors
  • 2. it influences the environment by output
    actions through effectors (Wooldridge)

85
Intelligence
  • Intelligent or rational agents are characterised
    by
  • an optimally adaptive behaviour in a changing
    environment. (Russell and Norvig)
  • flexible behaviour (Wooldridge)
  • Both definitions of intelligence presuppose an
    environment in which the agent operates.

86
Flexibility
  • a. reactivity able to respond quickly to changes
    in the environment
  • b. pro-activeness behaviour is goal-oriented,
    and the agent is able to take the initiative in
    achieving ist goals
  • c. social ability the capability to interact
    with other agents, i.e. to communicate

87
Multiple agents share the same environment
  • Thus they must coordinate their actions
  • using communication protocols such as KQML
  • based on the speech act theory of Austin and
    Searle

88
KQML
  • three types of performatives
  • 1) Discourse performatives used in knowledge
    exchange type of conversation (e.g. ask-if, tell
    )
  • 2) Intervention and mechanics of conversation
    performatives used to intervene in a dialogue
    (error, sorry) or to override default protocol
    (standby, ready)
  • 3) Facilitation and networking performatives
    allow agents to find other agents that can handle
    their queries (forward, broker-one)

89
Communication protocols
  • involve components such as
  • 1. sender
  • 2. receiver
  • 3. communication language
  • 4. message
  • 5. encoding/decoding functions
  • 6. actions to be taken by receiver

90
Austin and Searle
  • saw their work as a contribution not to ontology
    but to the philosophy of language
  • is concerned above all to combat a certain view
    of language
  • (of Aristotle and Frege)
  • according to which all utterances are assertives

91
Austin
  • The primary unit of philosophical analysis is
    linguistic
  • using language is acting
  • But what is the ontology of this sort of complex
    whole?

92
Ontological structures
  • in the social realm are transcategorial
  • involving experiences (speaking, perceiving),
    intentions, language, action, deontic powers,
    background collective habits, mental competences,
    records

93
Husserls theory of part, whole and dependence
  • applied by Ingarden to physics, biology
  • applied by Husserl himself to the ontological
    structure of linguistic meaning/grammar
  • ? invention of categorial grammar,
  • later formalized by Ajdukiewicz, Lambek

94
Husserls theory of part, whole and dependence
  • applied by his student Adolf Reinach to the
    ontological structure of law and of speech acts
  • ? invention of speech act theory in Reinachs A
    Priori Foundations of the Civil Law in 1913

95
(No Transcript)
96
Speech Acts
  • Examples requesting, questioning, answering,
    ordering, imparting information, promising,
    commanding, baptising
  • acts of the mind which do not have in words
    and the like their accidental additional
    expression
  • but rather acts which are performed in the very
    act of speaking

97
Reinachs theory of social acts
  • part of a complete a priori ontology of social
    interaction
  • a theory of actions, agents, ogligations, laws

98
Some events depend on underlying states
  • An assertion depends upon an underying state of
    conviction/belief
  • A command depends upon an underlying relational
    state of authority

99
Some events give rise to states
  • Perception gives rise to conviction/belief as
    its successor state John sees that Mary is
    swimming
  • Promising gives rise to claim and obligation as
    its successor states

100
The Structure of the Promise
promisee
promiser
relations of one-sided dependence
101
The Structure of the Promise
promisee
promiser
three-sided mutual dependence
102
The Structure of the Promise
two-sided mutual dependence
oblig-ation
claim
103
The Structure of the Promise
action do F
tendency towards realization
oblig-ation
claim
104
Modifications of Social Acts
  • Sham promises
  • Lies as sham assertions (cf. a forged signature)
    rhetorical questions
  • Social acts performed in someone elses name
    (representation, delegation)
  • Social acts with multiple addresses
  • Conditional social acts

105
Collective social acts
  • Singing in a choir
  • Conversation
  • Dancing
  • Arguing
  • Religious rituals

106
How modific-ations occur
107
How modific-ations occur
108
How modific-ations occur
109
How modific-ations occur
110
Agents
  • organisms and relatively isolated computer
    systems
  • situated in an environment
  • capable of flexible, autonomous action in that
    environment
  • interacting with other agents, including
  • communicating, negotiating, coordinating actions
  • often within some organizational context (e.g. a
    marketplace)

111
Environments a Neglected Major Category in the
History of Ontology
  • Substances
  • States, Qualities, Powers, Roles
  • Processes
  • Environments
  • environments missing from Aristotle, from
    entity-relationship models

112
Orthodox methodology
  • described by one of its critics,
  • Rodney Brooks,
  • as the SMPA view

113
SMPA
  • Sense Model Plan Act
  • the agent first senses its environment through
    sensors
  • then uses this data to build a model of the world
  • then produces a plan to achieve goals
  • then acts on this plan

114
SMPA
  • belongs to the same methodological universe as
    Application Ontology
  • If we want to build an intelligent agent, there
    need to be representations inside the agent
  • of the domain within which the agent acts
  • The agent reasoning processes act not on the
    real-world environment but on these
    representations (models)

115
Brooks Engineering Approach
  • takes its inspiration from evolutionary biology
  • lends very little weight to the role of
    representations or models
  • AI should use the world in all its complexity in
    producing systems that react directly to the world

116
Engineering Approach
  • An intelligent system embodies a number of
    distinct layers of activity (compare faculties
    of the mind, plus sensor-motoric faculties)
  • These layers operate independently and connect
    directly to the environment outside the system
  • Each layer operates as a complete system that
    copes in real time with a changing environment
  • Layers evolve through interaction with the
    environment (artificial insects/vehicles )

117
Brooks An intelligent system
  • must be situated
  • it is situatedness which gives the processes
    within each layer meaning
  • Most importantly
  • the world serves to unify the different layers
    together and to make them compatible/mutually
    adjusting

118
Organisms, especially humans,
  • fix their beliefs not only in their heads but in
    their worlds, as they attune themselves
    differently to different parts of the world as a
    result of their experience. And they pull the
    same trick with their memories, not only by
    rearranging their parsing of the world (their
    understanding of what they see), but by marking
    it.
  • They place traces out there which changes what
    they will be confronted with the next time it
    comes around. Thus they don't have to carry their
    memories with them.
  • Intelligence without Representation

119
J. J. Gibson The Ecological Approach to Visual
Perception
  • we are like (multi-layered) tuning forks tuned
    to the environment which surrounds us
  • (we have evolved in such a way as to be attuned
    to our environment
  • we are all experts in common sense
  • our perceptual beliefs are almost always true)

120
Organisms are tuning forks
  • They have evolved to resonate automatically and
    directly to those quality regions in their niche
    which are relevant for survival
  • -- perception is a form of automatic resonation
  • -- cognitive beings resonate to speech acts and
    to linguistic records
  • -- cognitive beings resonate deontically

121
The Ecological Approach
  • To understand cognition we should study the
    moving, acting organism as it exists in its
    real-world environment
  • and for human organisms this is a social
    environment which includes records and traces of
    prior actions in the form of communication
    systems (languages), storage systems (libraries),
    transport systems (roads), legal systems

122
Gibson Environment as Array of Affordances
  • The affordances of the environment are what it
    offers the animal, what it provides or furnishes,
    either for good or evil.
  • James J. Gibson, The Ecological Approach to
    Visual Perception
  • The environment of a commercial organism includes
    affordances such as prices.

123
Gibsons theory of surface layout
  • Niches systems of barriers, openings, pathways
    to which organisms are specifically attuned,
  • Include temperature gradients, patterns of
    movement of air or water molecules,
    electro-chemical signals guiding the movements of
    micro-organisms
  • But also traffic signs, instructions posted on
    notice boards or displayed on the computer screen

124
Application of the niche concept
  • in biology, ecology
  • in medicine (embryology )
  • in anthropology
  • in economics
  • in the ontology of artifacts
  • in law
  • in politics

125
Roger G. Barkers Eco-Behavioral Science
  • Gibson Ecological Psychology of Perception
  • Barker Ecological Psychology of Social Action
  • P. Schoggen, Behavior Settings A Review and
    Extension of Roger G. Barkers Ecological
    Psychology. Stanford, CA Stanford University
    Press, 1989.

126
Roger Barker Niche as Behavioral Setting
  • Niches are recurrent settings which serve as the
    environments for our everyday activities
  • a newspaper kiosk in the morning rush-hour,
  • your table in the cafeteria,
  • the 5pm train to Long Island.

127
Behavior Settings
  • Each behavior setting is associated with certain
    standing patterns of behavior.

128
Settings, for Barker,
  • are natural units in no way imposed by an
    investigator.
  • To laymen they are as objective as rivers and
    forests
  • they are parts of the objective environment
    that are experienced as directly as rain and
    sandy beaches are experienced. (Barker 1968, p.
    11)

129
Unity of Behaviour and Ecological Setting
  • A physical-behavioural unit is a unit its parts
    are unified together, but not through any
    similarity or community of substance.
  • Transcategorial complexity of behavior and
    setting

130
Barker on Unity of Social Reality
  • The conceptual incommensurability of phenomena
    which is such an obstacle to the unification of
    the sciences does not appear to trouble natures
    units.
  • Within the larger units, things and events from
    conceptually more and more alien sciences are
    incorporated and regulated.

131
Barker on Unity of Social Reality
  • As far as our behaviour is concerned, even
    the most radical diversity of kinds and
    categories need not prevent integration

132
The Systematic Mutual Fittingness of Behaviour
and Setting
  • The behaviour and the physical objects are
    intertwined in such a way as to form a pattern
    that is by no means random there is a relation
    of harmonious fit between the standard patterns
    of behaviour occurring within the unit and the
    pattern of its physical components.

133
The Systematic Mutual Fittingness of Behaviour
and Setting
  • The seats in the lecture hall face the speaker.
    The speaker addresses his remarks out towards the
    audience.
  • The boundary of the football field is the
    boundary of the game.
  • ? Non-transposability

134
Non-transposability
  • This mutual fittingness of behaviour and
    physical environment extends to the fine,
    interior structure of behaviour in a way which
    will imply a radical nontransposability of
    standing patterns of behaviour from one
    environment to another.
  • (Cant play football in a lecture theater)

135
Power and Authority
  • forces which help to sustain this mutual
    fittingness and thus to constitute the unity of
    the physical-behavioural unit through time.
  • These include physical constraints exercised by
    hedges, walls or corridors or by persons with
    sticks
  • also social forces manifested in threats,
    promises, warnings, admonitions

136
Settings shape Persons
  • Each person has many strengths, many
    intelligences, many social maturities, many
    speeds, many degrees of liberality and
    conservativeness, and many moralities, depending
    in large part on the particular contexts of the
    persons behavior.

137
Aurel Kolnai
  • a human society
  • comprehends the same individual over and over
    again in line with his various social
    affiliations
  • What an agent is, depends on the agents
    environment

138
Daily life
  • passage through a succession of
    physical-behavioural units
  • The latter are as much a part of the furniture
    of reality as are garden-variety continuants and
    occurrents

139
Environments may be nested
  • may have actual parts which are also
    environmental settings
  • (hierarchical nesting)
  • ? Theory of the organization of organizations
  • the roles you take on as inhabitant of the niche
    called IBM
  • the roles you take on as inhabitant of the niche
    called US-Division 4B/661 of IBM (YOU ARE THE
    BOSS)
  • the roles you take on as inhabitant of the niche
    called your local office (YOU ISSUE COMMANDS)

140
Marks of (bodily) substance
  1. Rounded-offness
  2. Occupies space
  3. Complete boundary
  4. May have substantial parts (nesting)
  5. May be included in larger substances
  6. Has a life (manifests contrary accidents at
    different times)

141
Corresponding Marks of Niches (3-Dimensional
Environments)
  • (i) A niche enjoys a certain natural completeness
    or rounded-offness,
  • being neither too small nor too large
  • in contrast to the arbitrary undetached parts
    of environmental settings and to arbitrary heaps
    or aggregates of environmental settings.

142
(ii) A niche takes up space,
  • it occupies a physical-temporal locale,
  • and is such as to have spatial parts.
  • Within this physical-temporal locale is a
    privileged locusa hole
  • into which the tenant or occupant of the setting
    fits exactly.

143
(iii) A niche
  • has an outer boundary
  • there are objects which fall clearly within it,
  • and other objects which fall clearly outside it.
  • (The boundary itself need not be crisp.)

144
(iv) A niche
  • may have actual parts which are also
    environmental settings
  • Barker Many settings occur in assemblies. A
    unit in the middle range of a nesting structure
    is simultaneously both whole and part, both
    entity and environment.
  • Compare the hierarchical organization of the
    human body into organs, cells,

145
(v) A niche
  • may be a proper part of larger, circumcluding
    niche.

146
(vi) A niche has a life Niches are
endurants/continuants
  • is now warm, now cold
  • now at peace, now at war .
  • now expanding, now contracting

147
Marks of (bodily) substance
  1. Rounded-offness
  2. Occupies space
  3. Complete boundary
  4. May have substantial parts (nesting)
  5. May be included in larger substances
  6. Has a life is now warm, now cold (Substances are
    endurants/continuants)

148
On being in a niche
  • Niches are in some ways like the interiors of
    substances
  • Two concepts of car
  • John is in his car
  • John saw his car from a distance
  • The embryo is in the uterus
  • The doctor examined the uterus

149
Two concepts of London
  • John is in London
  • John saw London from the air
  • London ? London
  • IBM ? IBM
  • A is part of B vs. A is in the interior of B as a
    tenant is in its niche

150
3-dimensional environments
  • England
  • The Nile Delta
  • The interior of your car
  • A stagnant pond
  • ecologists habitat

151
4-dimensional environments
  • Lobsters have evolved into environments marked
    by cyclical patterns of temperature change
  • Tudor England
  • The Afghan winter
  • The window of opportunity for an invasion of
    Iraq
  • Barkers behavior settings

152
Where are Niches?
153
SNAP Ontology of entities enduring through time
154
Where are Places?
155
Where are behavior-settings?
spatio- temporal volumes
156
SPAN Ontology of entities extended in time
spatio- temporal volumes
standardized patterns of behavior
157
Three Main Ingredients to the SNAP/SPAN Framework
  • Independent SNAP entities Substances
  • Dependent SNAP entities powers, qualities,
    roles, functions
  • SPAN entities Processes

158
Gene Ontology
  • Cellular Component Ontology subcellular
    structures, locations, and macromolecular
    complexes
  • examples nucleus, telomere
  • Molecular Function Ontology tasks performed by
    individual gene products
  • examples transcription factor, DNA helicase
  • Biological Process Ontology broad biological
    goals accomplished by ordered assemblies of
    molecular functions
  • examples mitosis, purine metabolism

159
Three Main Ingredients to the SNAP/SPAN Framework
  • Independent SNAP entities Molecular Components
  • Dependent SNAP entities Functions
  • SPAN entities Processes

160
Conclusions for a Theory of Agents
  • Two sorts of ontology for a theory of agents
  • Domain ontology (ontology within the agent)
  • Reference ontology (including both agents and
    environment within a single theory)
  • Communication between agents constructed within
    different information systems environments
    achieved only via hand-callibration of their
    communication protocols via something like a
    reference ontology

161
Conclusions for a Theory of Agents
  • Agents are in the world, they have to achieve
    their goals in relation to a particular
    environment, and adapt to this environment
  • Therefore if we want to have a good theory of
    agent-based computing, we need to have a good
    theory of (worldly) environments

162
Humans, Machines, and the Structure of Knowledge
  • Harry M. Collins
  • SEHR, 4 2 (1995)

163
Knowledge-down-a-wire
  • Imagine a 5-stone weakling having his brain
    loaded with the knowledge of a champion tennis
    player.
  • He goes to serve in his first match
  • -- Wham!
  • his arm falls off.
  • He just doesn't have the bone structure or
    muscular development to serve that hard.

164
Types of knowledge/ability/skill
  • those that can be transferred simply by passing
    signals from one brain/computer to another.
  • those that cant

165
Sometimes it is the body (the hardware) which
knows
166
and sometimes it is the world outside which knows
167
Types of knowledge/ability/skill
  • those that can be transferred simply by passing
    signals from one brain/computer to another.
  • those that cant
  • -- here the "hardware" is important
  • abilities/skills contained
  • (a) in the body
  • (b) in the world

168
From
  • The Methodological Solipsist Approach to
    Information Processing
  • To
  • The Ecological Approach to Information Processing

169
Fodorian Psychology
  • To understand human cognition we should study the
    mind/brain in abstraction from its real-world
    environment
  • (as if it were a hermetically sealed Cartesian
    ego)

170
Shimon Edelmans Riddle of Representation
  • two humans, a monkey, and a robot are looking at
    a piece of cheese
  • what is common to the representational processes
    in their visual systems?

171
Answer
The cheese, of course
172
I know where the book is
  • I know how to find it
  • I know what the square root of 2489 is
  • I know how to calculate it
  • I know how to recognize the presence of a tiger
  • by smell, noise (in real-world context)

173
How to solve this problem
  • Compare the way in which the physical properties
    of ROADS help people to obey the traffic laws
    when driving
  • Deal with obligations, norms not via deontic
    logic but via the comparison with roads?
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