nettime's confused ontologist on Fri, 13 Jul 2001 23:59:47 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Internetontology (2x)

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   Re: <nettime> internetontology[ Cyc and D. Lenat ]                              
     josh zeidner <>                                              

   Re: <nettime> internetontology                                                  
     brian carroll <>                                        


- ---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 16:29:36 -0400
Subject: BOUNCE Approval required:     

Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 08:23:37 -0700 (PDT)
From: josh zeidner <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> internetontology[ Cyc and D. Lenat ]

Hi Martin,

   Thanks much for the feedback... some

> hi all,
> that is an interesting topic. knowledge of the
> world. in a database ( not
> to mention the word hierarchical, you use). i wonder
> if you ever read
> goedel...

   I am familiar with his work on logic.  "Godel,
Escher, Bach" was a very good book.

> another detail: where does a fact become knowledge.
> in this case,
> knowledge has to be defined as "worth of being
> entered into this
> database". is it as soon as someone cares about it?
> as soon as someone
> pays for it? in my opinion, this is NOT the
> definition of knowledge i
> learned on the university.

   Here lies much of the problem.  We live in the age
of information, unfortunately not the age of
knowledge.  Information/Data != Thought.

> but historical "events" where people decided, what
> reality is (and defined
> knowledge through this), always tend to redefine
> knowledge by neglecting
> the opinions of critics and accepting those of the
> defining ones (often
> without proof). from this view, it seems like ANY
> attempt to define
> knowledge has to be "repressive" against someone.
> take the catholic church
> in europe in the medieval ages for example.
> knowledge can so easily be
> misused, when it is based upon opinions and not
> facts (so, redefined).

  Well, this is a complex dynamic and many people have
spent thier lives trying to explain and/or "solve" it
and all I can say is that using some kind of thought
system or belief to marginalize others and "opress"
them is of course, wrong.  These opressive systems are
usually characterized by the limiting of access to
"knowledge".  It also seems that increasing the means
to trade information does not increase the total
amount of "knowledge".

> i really wonder how this database handles contrary
> points of view. do they
> give different meaning a kind of "weight" or
> "propability factor". to
> reflect the situation of the real world, i would
> suggest a mixture of
> random and a link to "culture profiles". we are
> getting close to where we
> don't want to get.

  It doesnt handle contrary points of view.  As I
said, lenat plans on consilidating and discrepencies
or multiplicity.  If Cyc does take off, I would love
to see what would happen if religious fundamentalists
got thier hands on this stuff.  Another interesting
scenario with the use of this technology, would be if
there were in fact huge multiple databases of
knowledge.  We could then pit the AI's against each
other and allow them to interrogate themselves
automatically and give us a readout of thier
fundamental differences.

> if you want to read more about how to define what's
> a fact and what's
> nonsense, what is DECIDED to be real (as part of the
> reality), i recommend
> the book "troika" by the strugatzky brothers
> (russian scifi authors). in
> german it is available as part of the fantastic
> "fantastische bibliothek"
> by suhrkamp verlag.

  Hmm is there publication in English?  HAs anyone
ever read the Polish Sci-Fi author Stanislaw Lem?  he
has some really interesting stuff( his most known is
Solaris )...


> martin pi
> ps: as i always have to post :: don't mistake bad
> english for bad
> thoughts!
> On Tue, 10 Jul 2001, josh zeidner wrote:
> > 
> > Hi Brian!
> > 
> >   Are you familiar with the Cyc project lead by
> Doug
> > Lenat?  It is essentially an attempt to construct
> an
> > ontology for the ENTIRE WORLD.  They have actually
> > managed to encode quite a bit of data.  A small
> subset
> > of it is available as open source.
> > 
> >
> >
> > 
> >   I think that there is something drastically
> flawed
> > with the ideas behind projects such as these.  To
> > assume that knowledge is empirical or fixed would
> > result in a sort of tyranny of thought, where only
> one
> > particlar system of signification dominates( the
> one
> > that is cheapest to purchase? ), and its
> > interpretation would be the monopoly of those who
> have
> > access to the physical device.  Many would say
> that
> > this flaw would eventually make itself evident in
> > operational shortcomings, but Im afraid this may
> not
> > be the case.  Should enough people have thier
> vested
> > interests in such a technology or thought
> paradigm,
> > then it will be FORCED on people, much the same
> way an
> > inferior technology like MS-DOS is popular simply
> due
> > to commercial reasons.  And when people become
> > immersed in it, they mistake it for the truth.
> > 
> >   Lenat also expressed an interesting concern. 
> The
> > owners of Cyc released a part of it as open source
> > with the hopes that developers would independently
> > develop new ontologies using thier(proprietary)
> > encoding syntax.  What Doug Lenat was concerned
> about
> > was that there would be conflicting ontologies, or
> > possibly even a informational schism resulting in
> many
> > cyc databases of knowledge.  What Lenat hopes to
> do is
> > to have the company consolidate the data as it
> sees
> > fit.  Will Doug Lenat be the final say on "life,
> the
> > universe, and everthing?".
> > 
> >   Right now, the project seems fairly harmless.  I
> > actually applied for employment there recently. 
> But
> > could we, in the future, have a centralized
> hierachial
> > database of real world knowledge that cannot be
> > challenged simply because "thats what it says"( if
> the
> > computer says so it must be true! )?  Sounds like
> the
> > catholic church of the middle ages.  Hello dark
> age
> > part II.
> > 
> >   naturally, the military has taken interest in
> the
> > project for some reason or another.
> >  
> > 
> >  -josh zeidner
> >    
> > > >
> > > >ShelfLife, No. 8 (28 June 2001)
> > > >
> >  <...>
> > 
> > __________________________________________________
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> > 
> > #  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use
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> > 
>                                : martin pi 
>                       contact  :
>  :  0699 10443742
>   johann strauss gasse 32 / 7  :  1040 vienna
>                                : 

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- ---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 17:54:45 -0400
Subject: BOUNCE Approval required:     


Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 09:44:58 -0800
From: brian carroll <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> internetontology

  hi Josh, interesting URL and ideas you share.
  my language abilities are faltering, so i will
  be abstractly brief in my observations...

  ontology, in my experience, has been closely related
  to developing 'generalist' content online, such as
  a glossary, architectural portal, and now a portal
  for electromagnetic information and ideas. what i've
  run into in the coding of these projects are decisions
  upon how to structure relationships between words and
  their conceptual relationships. for example, archiving
  all primary disciplines which use electromagnetism is
  one huge assumption, as there are competing taxonomies
  and that science-humanities split still needs stitching.
  so too, architectural texts, and ideas. one resource
  that always stuck in my mental-atomspheric has been
  the archivist/librarian, which is why i enjoyed the
  foucoultian 'archaeoknowledge', as it is practical.
  Getty's library does a significant job at categorizing
  the fields in detail. yet there is always a sense that
  the structure is like matter, and the anti-matter is
  really where knowing occurs, where guesses and hypo-
  theses and experiments turn mystery into understanding.
  but there is always an uncertain certainty, given the
  language, so it seems. that constant subject viewing,
  thinking, acting, verbing along. but not so with science,
  with mathematics, with numbers, or not nearly as so in
  their absolute sense, in that they already are beyond
  the question of authority and do hold authority, even
  if it is not warranted. but do so by power alone, often-
  times, and despotically so.

  so, as a necessary badness, it may be necessary to find
  a common language for humans, however fuzzy, to be able
  to speak to the ideas that are universalized in numbers
  and statistics, which guide public and private policies,
  and determine the future course of things, as they have
  the past. economics, engineering, physics. whatnot. as
  issues like gene research come up, who can argue with
  the number 1, how can one begin to say it is not right,
  or wrong, or, forbid, untrue? impossible, because it is
  improbable to do so given totally subjective and private
  languaging amongst people of sign-i-ficant difference.
  until i=you and this equals we, then and only then will
  we be able to speak in terms of probability, where 1 is
  not true if it is really closer to zero, and not absolute
  at that, however fuzzy our shared language is, it is much
  more reasonable than any mathematician trying to speak
  humanity through a fortress of numerological ideology.

  greatest quote of 2001, Bush saying 'we need better science'
  on Global Warming. funny, that. else, say, the PBS public
  tv show yesterday on Air Force One, the plane, with a
  followup advert for Caeser of Rome and his empire.
  given the complexities of language, the complexities of
  communicating, and that of reasoning, false in privatized
  communalities which are pre-supposed to re-present the
  whole while pimping for the authoritarian bureaucracy,
  it is time to lay down the power that is holding back
  simple and basic truthes and move forward, together, on
  shared ideas. without language, there is no way to do this.
  and languages die out. and it seems so has public language,
  any ideas that can break out of the commodification of the
  individual's 'I'dentity, where it is subservient to the
  needs, or at least in balance, with those of the whole
  'i' of a distributed humanity. make a database, let it
  reverse engineer itself via fuzzy logic, and there need
  be no authority, just as a-life engines. the rules are
  links, and densities, and evolutions and mutations. a
  supercomputer may be the only way to find meaning in
  this muck of intellectual complexity that is thinking
  today, and collaborative inaction on the scales of events.

  onto logic, human.

matter, energy, and in-formation


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