Message-id: <>
Date: Mon, 3 Feb 92 20:56:27 EST
Subject: Standards

Some comments on some of your comments:

> In fact, another reason that the effort seems to be going haywire is
> that it is not being driven by a specific real need.  If DARPA would
> provide a set of REAL knowledge bases that need to be shipped from one
> place to another, then we could evaluate proposals based on whether or
> not they address questions that really arise in this scenario.
> Without this realistic forcing function, most argument is idle and
> academic.

I agree that we must have a clear statement of requirements from people
who have real problems.  Ultimately, those requirements should originate
with the people who have the problems.  The people who are developing KR
systems have a lot to say about what constructs are most effective for
addressing various requirements, but the requirements themselves must
come from the people with the problems.

> All of this was part and parcel of the major community-wide discussion
> on this topic that was held at KR'91, and at which many of us thought
> the issue was settled and that the steering committee for the
> knowledge-sharing effort was supportively in tune with.  Unfortunately,
> if the e-mail traffic over the last few months is any indication, the
> clear message of that meeting has once again been lost.  Part of the
> confusion has clearly been engendered by the injection of the PDES and
> ANSI discussions into the DARPA discussions, and by people assuming
> that the DARPA effort was a standards effort similar to those efforts.

The AI community is not a group of requirements generators, but a group
of people who are offering solutions.  They may be well qualified to
judge how well different proposals can solve different problems.  But
they are not qualified to say that the people who are clamoring for
standards should not have standards.

PDES and ANSI IRDS are two groups that are trying to address very clear
and distinct problems.  If you want forcing functions to test proposed
solutions, it is hard to find any other groups with more serious
requirements for knowledge sharing.

> Unless there has been another reversal since KR'91, that is NOT the
> key thrust of the knowledge-sharing research effort, and I for one
> wish that we could clarify things and get back on the right track.

Last year at this time, the DARPA knowledge sharing effort was clearly
using the term "standards".  They stopped using that term after they
were shouted down at KR'91.  But the people who shouted them down were
not the people with the problems, but the people who were afraid that
their own pet solutions would be left out.

The PDES and IRDS groups have some very pressing problems, and they
desperately want standards.  If the people who happen to know something
about knowledge representation don't offer them anything better, they
will adopt some very ugly, ad hoc proposals and force them on all of us
as standards.  If that happens, the KR community can pass any resolutions
they like, but they would all be totally irrelevant.

John Sowa