josh zeidner on Tue, 17 Jul 2001 06:09:59 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> internetontology[ Diderot, Cyc, Deleuze, McLuhan, and Star Trek ]


  I agree with much of what you have said.  Ideally, humans could discuss
everyday things in terms of a language that is as exact and objective as
mathematics( interestingly, in Hebrew, mathematical notation and regular
linguistic notation are interchangeable ) .  Jeffrey Fisher, who
participates on this list, also seems to have particular ideas that relate
to this.  I also have some thoughts:

  In computer science, there seems to be two distinct schools of thinking.  
One I will call the communicationists and the other, the informationists.  
The first sees computers as a means to communicate "codes"( or memes if
you will ) which are ultimately arbitary in structure( this would mean
that there is no absolute language in which they may be encoded ).  The
latter school tends to view knowledge as absolute, and computers are a way
to store and index this knowledge( these people are constantly trying to
find new and more abstact ways to encode information ).  Cyc and Lenat are
most definately of the second school.

  Knowledge does have a vertical, arborescent structure, and knowledge
often takes the form of an ontology, however there is also a more subtle
form that knowledge takes, which deleuze calls the rhizome.
 It seems upon close examination, any ontology breaks down.  And according
to phenomenological thought, our everyday experiential world is based on
our ontological filters( so our everday experiential world breaks down
upon close examination! ).

  So we would assume, that a more basic fundamental reality is the
interplay of rhizomes.  What sorts of geometries could we use to describe
a rhizome field?  I am taking an intuitive leap here, but this world is
the world of quantum mathematics.  Where each point in the quantum field
effects all the other points, where everthing is interconnected through a
continuum, and the formal barriers of space-time break down( in this world
, knowledge can be transmitted WITHOUT computers or books or even
conversation ).  Also, if ontologies are examined enough( or accelerated
), the tangibility of knowledge breaks down( or if decellerated new
knowledge can be created ).  Our knowledge has no firm ground on which it
is supported, when percieved on this level.

  It is an accepted fact that there is no absolute perfect grammar( "all
grammars leak" ).  But this does not mean that grammars are useless, or
any real progress would come through the abandonment of them.  However,
the real noumena of knowledge lies beyond such structure, and such
grammars are its manifestation.

  I also find it interesting, and I am not sure whether I want to see my
prediction come true, that technologies such as Cyc could become
commonplace in the near future.  It seems that the main limitation to
speech recoginition( which, if it worked would completely revolutionize
the way we use computers ), has to do with Cyc-like technology.  Speech
recoginition today is terrible( continuous speech recognition ).  Try an
experiment: listen to a short phrase of a language that you have
absolutely no understanding of; now try to write down the syllables you
just heard; it is impossible, you would be lucky if you got a third of
them( this is more or less how speech recognition such as ViaVoice or
Dragon works ).
 It seems our understanding of language through speech relies on our
knowledge of syntax and semantics, it is these filters that sufficiently
reduce the entropy of a phoneme stream so that we can effectively recieve
the message.  So:  our everday use of computers will be contingent on
encoded ontological knowledge of everday things such as: "birds have
wings", "pigs are edible", and "Mohammed is the one true prophet".  You
can imagine what kind of conflicts will arise in the use of this

  I really would be interested in reading your thesis, also I would
recommend you send it to the Cyc project( they are from what I understand,
some very smart and liberal minded people ).  Thanks for the reply-

  -josh z

[ sorry I wouldnt include your message here unless you
gave me permission to do so... ]

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