Re: Frames are (almost) enough for EDI (Pat Hayes)
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Date: Wed, 21 Sep 1994 13:26:39 +0000
To: (Paul van der Vet),
From: (Pat Hayes)
Subject: Re: Frames are (almost) enough for EDI
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At 10:28 AM 9/21/94 +0200, Paul van der Vet wrote, in response to part of a
message from me:

>> This is one of the problems with the formalisms we have, I think: they
>> force one to take a stance on issues which are not really important to the
>> task in hand and which later get in the way. (Is a fitted carpet IN a room
>> or PART OF the room? How about the paint on the wall?) [...]
>I wonder whether these issues are not really important. Different sets
>of axioms make for different consequence sets. The carpet example only
>poses a problem if there is a real difference between IN and PART

But there is. For example, a fitted carpet in a room can be detached, and
is then no longer part of the room, but can still be in it; and something
can of course be part of some other thing without being in it (in this
sense of 'in': there are other senses, but that just illustrates my point
even more vividly.)
>Now the carpet example is perhaps not so clarifying because it deals
>with common-sense knowledge. Common-sense knowledge doesn't give you
>much to hold on to anyway, so even if you do inspect consequence sets
>you often find yourself wondering whether the differences matter.

Yes, exactly. But AI has been trying to codify such common-sense knowledge
using logic (or some equivalently expressive notation) now for about 20
years. It is widely thought to be an essential task in order to achieve
intelligence: and certainly it seems that the knowledge that is needed in
order to help language understanding or reasoning about any domain (other
than very precise mathematical or scientific ones) is going to involve
these concepts. Legal reasoning, for example, surely needs to understand
the notions of 'in' and 'part of'. And the same kinds of difficulty arise
even in such apparently well-organised domains as describing the managerial
structure of an organisation. (Can someone be their own manager? It depends
quite what you mean by 'manager'.)

..... you are by necessity solving
>two problems in one stroke: (1) organising an otherwise unorganised
>bunch of intuitions which might moreover differ from person to person;
>and (2) expressing what you have found in first-order logic. I suggest
>that in dealing with common-sense knowledge the first problem is the

I agree, but I should add that the only way we have to do such organising,
is to try to express the stuff in some logic-equivalent notation. Solving
the second problem gives us the tools to solve the first problem. The point
of my comment was to suggest that maybe part of our difficulties with the
first problem might be because we are using the wrong kind of tools.


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