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All posts for the month September, 2001

Quote : Martin Rees in Just Six Numbers – The 3 spatial dimensions are a fundamental feature of our universe, any other number and it / we could not exist. eg the alimetary canal of a higher animal in 2D splits it in two unless it ingests and excretes through the same orifice – messy prospect. Time is another dimension, but is distinctly different from the others, due to its irreversible directionality.
Ref : ISBN 0-297-84297-8 (9 780297 842972) Weidenfeld & Nicholson (page 3)

Pre-amble needs to cover :

A Challenge – Modelling knowledge bumps up against age old philosophical issues almost before you open the box. Is there a fundamental truth view of the world, and if there is, will we find and agree what it is anytime soon ? Well maybe, but not likely, seem to be pretty reasonable working assumptions; which is hardly a very tight scientific argument, but the challenge is there for any who wish to disagree.

A Warning – So it’s important to bear in mind that we’re not actually looking for a “Grand Unifying Theory of Everything”, even if our practical objective is to achieve something that could be applied to the ubiquitous and generic domain of the entire world wide web, all who may interact with it, and the entire body of human knowledge and artificial intelligence that may represent. I have been concerned with this subject, since a moment I can pinpoint very precisely some 21 years ago in 1980, when I was first struck by an important hidden ambiguity in a pretty insignificant business form, and in particular for the last 5 years concerned with attempting to standardise and implement a generic extended enterprise model in the broadly engineering industry. In that time, I have experienced countless individuals, myself included, who get drawn towards the fatal attractor at the moment they discover they have a very generic and flexible model on their hands.

The Trick – It is important to remember that when developing your ontology, even when this is a framework, meta-model (or meta-meta-model, or a language etc.) with which to develop an ontology, you are making a choice – deeming which entities may exist. The choice is based on some world view – which may of course be some rationalisation of several other world views – and others with different perspectives and different practical application domains will hold or choose to hold different world views. So a widely applicable generic ontology may come tantalisingly close to being a model to which all others can be deterministically mapped, but there will always be other models to which only incomplete or imperfect mappings will be possible.

The Ologies – Having said that philosophy and meta-physics cannot hold the one true answer to this problem domain, it is of course necessary to appreciate and map between different world views which lead to different models or modelling frameworks, and the various limitations and compromises of the different views.

[Updated Feb 2002 – I’ve been taking stock of Psybertron’s objectives, triggered by the reading of Robert Pirsig’s Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM), and I noticed that I started this Bog 2 days after September 11th 2001 …. this piece forms the footnote to each and every blog page since.]

Flight to New Reason

The lines of thought here had been keeping me awake at nights long before Bin Laden woke the world. Nothing in this Blog has anything whatsoever to do with WTC or al- Qaeda, but I’m not alone in being awoken to the power of the Blog by the information aftermath of those events.

Perhaps in some small way the idea that western rational arrogance, which dogs progress in so many aspects of life, can be influenced by my puny efforts to bring alternative philosophies into the mainstream. Many much greater people than I have tried before and failed over three millennia, so I’m not holding my breath.

If September 11th brings anything new to this ancient debate, apart from its awful significance, it is the fact that the antidote to classical logic is sure as hell not a flight from reason. That way lies only evil. The words “creative destruction” can never again be used lightly.

The lights went out on Broadway.

There’s something solid forming in the air,
And the wall of death is lowered in Time Square.
No-one seems to care,
They carry on as if nothing were there.
The wind is blowing harder now,
Blowing dust into my eyes.
The dust settles on my skin,
Making a crust I cannot move in
And I’m hovering like a fly
Waiting for the windshield on the freeway.

Fly on a Windshield.
Copyright Peter Gabriel 1974
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.