Thursday, September 01, 2005

Pipelines to Functional Programming, KRL to the SemWeb

Had another meeting with Henry today, very productive. As for the Semantic Web Science workshop in Cambridge, Henry wrote a very nice little position paper that mentioned me :)

In essence, we went over a number of topics. First, that the f(X) Henry will be presenting as a W3C Member Submission is going to be rather simple (only wrap the outside of an Infoset) and only encode W3C standards, but he thinks this is the easiest way to get the ball rolling so to speak. He's quite interested in how f(X) could solve the PHP embedding code problem (as when random non-Infoset code starts appearing in Infosets!) and so lead to better code modularity, and how it could solve the AJAX problem of scripts just ad-hoc modifying DOM trees ( by letting an XML tree expose itself per se). Since I'm more of a Java hacker than a C hacker, it makes sense for me to modify the Markup Technology pipeline to bootstrap f(X) rather than the LX Toolset or coding it all myself, which I agree. I need to develop a side-by-side comparison of MT pipeline vs. f(X).

The second is that there are a number of lessons for the Semantic Web from old KRL projects. First, that Maturana is right on many counts, but his hardline stance against representation is wrong. Maturana has a hard time explaining how "internal structural changes" that have no connection to the signal, can explain the following Brian Smith parable: "To get through a rapids on a canoe, it actually makes sense to paddle upstream, where a balance in the rapids can be obtained so one can better reach a sort of stasis and get through the rapids safely." - and if you tell this to someone who doesn't know it, that they will try this line of action. It seems that there are quite a few stories that only representation can explain easily! However, if analytic philosophy seems to be coming up against all of these problems, and the obvious other choice to build AI upon is hermeuneutics, why isn't anyone following it up? Barwise never formalized situation semantics, Robin Cooper did note that "misunderstaning doesn't just happen, it's constitutive of natural language", and Brian only got so far. So what happened? Is hermeuneutics not enough, due to its *lack* of a representational story?

Lastly, that the KRL project got really complicated and more or less collapsed (having Rumelhart run away into neural networks!) when to properly update semantic networks they finally had to incorporate both action (such as backward and forward chainining triggers and traps!), and reflection to control. So - what's the main problem for the Semantic Web? When the Semantic representations change.


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