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Posts Tagged ‘interpersonal relations’

The world is lacking an operational definition of intelligence that can lead to more exact thinking and to computer systems that help people to think more clearly and effectively. A good operational definition ought to be:

  1. Specific enough to be implanted as a procedure one that can be easily and readily followed.
  2. Motivational, manageable, measurable such that it leads to invention, progress, successful outcome.
  3. Attainable such that any baby can use the organism to sense and control entities and activities in its world or environment.
  4. Relevant, in that it is determinate of what is to become significant, or;
  5. Timely, and
  6. Salient

This definition (stated below) addresses two questions:

  • Where do we get the intelligence to deal with a growing, changing reality?
  • How does intelligence work to make changes in our favor?

Most researchers agree that human intelligence is observed in behavior, in particular, in language and through speech acts. The Sapir-Whorf theory of linguistic relativity, was summarized by the semanticist Stuart Chase, when he stated:

“First, that all higher levels of thinking are dependent on language. Second, that the structure of the language one habitually uses influences the manner in which one understands his environment. The picture of the universe shifts from tongue to tongue.”

Restating this linguistic theory as a systems theory and in terms of analytic and computational engineering, notational engineer Jeffry Long wrote:

“First, that all abstract thinking is dependent upon the existence or invention of notational systems. Second, that the underlying ontological inventions of the notational system one habitually uses influences the manner in which one understands his environment. Acquiring literacy in a major notation causes us to add a new dimension to our picture of the universe.”

Based on twenty-seven years of intimate experience, I can restate Tammam Adi’s theory of semantics based on Classical Arabic, in this way:

First, living in the world is a growing, expanding experience or (ontogenic) process in which we make things (speech, nouns, names; things, artifacts, etc.). The words of language are made of abstract structures referencing bits or segments of this growing/making reality that we construct and utilize for common edification and understanding.

Second, the growth in common and social sense, along with modern languages, rests on ontogenetic intelligence in the organism of mind and on the success of its notational system: its elementary (ontogenic) processes and semantic rules, and its recognizable symbols (e.g. alphabets) and system of writing. Collectively, we call these “ontological inventions” for making progress.

Thirdly, word structure is composed of clusters or configurations of ontological inventions involving and representing both real and abstract entities and activities, arranged in such way as to be productive (of making sense, meaning, things) of understanding.

With Adi’s theory of (algebraic, axiomatic) semantics, it is possible to specify the ordinary conditions and ontogenic controls of sapience in the following concise and formalized way:

There is a self-organizing mechanism (regulating schemata) comprising:

  1. the polarity of an abstract entity, representing engagement conditions, (G) distinguishing the involvement and participation of oneself and others, (G={Self, Others}) in;
  2. a symmetrical relationship (R) crossing the polarity of an abstract procedure, representing an ontogenic orientation and boundary conditions
    (T={Open, Closed}, and R=T X G) for;
  3. a set of invariant and elementary processes
    (P={assignment, manifestation, containment}) being structured by the abstract entity, using the polar procedure for growing and making (sense, understanding, artifacts etc.) and;
  4. which schematic arrangement of such entities and activities generates symbolic and semantic operations (syntactically) carried out or produced (i.e. interpreted) by enacting them (via speech-acts, etc.).

We call this intelligence and we say: “Intelligence is the organism of a mind uniting (abstract and real) entities and activities in such a way that they are productive of regular changes from the beginning until the end.”


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This post follows on my last introduction to an objective point of view and it continues exposing Adi’s semantics and the objects of the metalanguage he developed to help explain the relation between language, thought and basic or fundamental existence.

In this post I will charaterize, once again, the idea of conception.  Instead of using a psychological or psychoanalytic language as I have in the past, I will return to the physical theme that guided early research, after finding support for these ideas in Bohm’s book On Creativity (mentioned previously), to introduce the semiotics of creativity.  In this context, semiotics is seen as a system for the interpretation of symbols and creativity is simply the ability or power to create and to conceive (e.g., to form or devise a concept).

In what follows, I will show how the symbols of language are steeped in the creative forces of Nature so that we may extract the flavor and meaning of life.

As I have reported elsewhere in this blog,  computer scientists and linguists are fond of propositional theories that turn beliefs into statements and assertions that can be aggregated into data.  So, it has been difficult showing computer scientists, logicians and programmers, that there are other ways to process meaning.  What is called ‘semantics’ in the computer industry is the epistemological truth or correspondence between such stated beliefs or assertions.  This is all good, even rational, yet somehow ‘artificial’.  This has been demonstrated in the past and more recently with game-playing computers.

The ‘epistemological methods’  do not account for the ‘natural causes’ of human perception or the production of belief. This may be hard to grasp fully, yet, one intuitively knows that their ability to act or judge (also seen as an action) is subject to physical forces and conditions, arising from within and without, and to the passage of time.  Dr. Tom Adi discovered the essential nature of these physical powers and creative forces while looking for semantics in samples of a historically consistent language.

The semantic logic of the poietic-side (generative) use of language derives from physical processes: Upon enduring (more-often after appreciating) the forces and powers behind prominent events — take one that evokes a familiar, if not pleasing, sensation X — a Speaker S may find they can fashion physical gestures and symbols and actual procedures (moving towards, away / forward, backward, etc.) into mental tools. Such tools are used for projecting the idea (the configuration or arrangement of objects and procedures) that causes X, where the sophistication and use of such tools increases over time. Children often learn repetitively; by simulating or causing a physical procedure (influencing X) to reoccur.

Such ’physical procedure’ (explained more fully below) may be carried out in the imagination or for real. There is nothing mysterious about sensation X. It is defined according to practice as a palpable feeling or perception resulting from something that happens to or comes into contact with the body. It is physical nature that all living organisms have a proprioceptive sense; one that relates to the stimuli connected with the position and movement of the body. These stimuli, produced within the organism, are sensations that cause further reaction or response. Most people have witnessed a flower turn its petals to the sun.

The sensation that moves the flower is produced from within, from a sense of the extent, direction and force of impinging stimuli, i.e., For the flower, the ‘meaning’ is in the orientation of the flower in respect to the natural forces moving it to take the ‘right’ position. Moral and other distinctions holding mind and body apart are unnecessary to one’s proprioceptive sense of the position, location and relevant extent of objects and forces in one’s immediate presence.

While all living beings have a proprioceptive sense of being at their discretion, (to avoid running into things, face in the right direction, or simply satisfy their role, etc.) humans beings also have limited dominion over the creative forces of nature to go along with their animal instincts. It is human nature to uncover or discover the physical nature that causes one’s experience. One can use or abuse these powers and act in many ways, though mainly, one acts to change the future and one may act as if the future is irrelevant. The liberty and power to judge plays a major role.

As everyone does or should know very well, we cannot pass physical nature from ourselves to others, we can only project our own sensations as ‘sense-data’ — the idea that something (in the surrounding environment) affects us or causes X. We expect others can “feel” the same way or “see” or “sense” the “controlling presences” (often, even without quite knowing them ourselves).

The meaning in this sense-data is gathered up in the symbols we use to project the idea that causes sensation X. Others have to ‘get’ or apprehend the idea that produces sensation X.  To ‘have meaning’ is to be capable of causing sensation X to arise. Any useful sign must indicate a physical procedure: the forces and conditions that characterize the extent (limits and relevance) of objects in respect to a perceptible position or location and relevant extent of sensation X that a Speaker S desires to be produced in a Listener L.

Plainly, what is called the idea (here) is the position and power — of the particular configuration of being, forces and conditions — that produces sensation X and causes the anticipated reaction in an individual. The problem today is that the meaning of ideas, — the bearing of such forces and conditions — can be confusing, tacit, vague or ambiguous; hidden behind a plethora of speculative, metaphorical or subjective references projected using ordinary speech-Acts A.

Now let us turn our sights onto that ‘physical procedure’ and characterize the forces and conditions involved in the creation of meaning and the production of significance. A focal interpretation of such forces of production P and conditions of existence R is at-hand.

The formulation that follows derives from Adi’s theory of semantics, where the abstract objects of Adi’s metalanguage objectify natural operations, forces and conditions. These sets of objects, defined below in mathematical terms, construct a conceptual polar coordinate system given folks share a proprioceptive sense of being (a body in motion, oriented in space and time).

While a skeptic might accept a claim that humans are specs on a rock hurtling through space, being a body in motion in space and time is only slightly more abstract and ‘being human’ claims little more. It claims the need for knowing one’s position or location, power and relevant extent, in respect to other states and objects in the same dimension. Adi’s arrangement interprets the limits to the natural system of objects, forces and states present to interpersonal experience from a proprioceptive point or value.

Computationally, any sequence, function, or sum of a series (such as a series of sounds or phonemes, i.e., signs) can be determined to be progressively approaching or receding from this point or value, i.e.; its bearings can be determined.  If meaning is determined to be the property of something existing, said or done to impact one’s sensations  — as it appears to be — this functionality appears critical to predicting significance or pertinence and relevance.

It has been difficult for most people to understand how the positions of arbitrary objects and vague forces and conditions can be characterized or calculated from language. Many linguists quickly dismiss the whole idea as radical, incomprehensible or impossible, out of hand. It does not make them ‘right’.

Language is widely considered to be like a map of the territory of reality.  People use maps to get and set their bearings. People use language to navigate the world of other people and their opinions, along with other objects, things and feelings. Now that you have been introduced to this point of view, I urge the reader to think critically about what follows in connection with the examples that are included at the end of this characterization of Adi’s semantic objects.

While these forces and conditions are taken to be axiomatic, the implications can be barely perceptible. So I will first characterize the sets of (real) forces and conditions emanating from or impinging on the senses.Then I will present Adi’s semantic matrix where, essentially, thought and action, theory and practice, meet. The intersections of the matrix are overlaid with examples of legitimate workaday representations. Here first are the objects and sets comprising Adi’s semantic metalanguage; focused on the semantics of creativity (the ability to create):

Based upon semantic findings from a study of Classical Arabic, we assume there exists a changeless and universal content to life, a set of creative forces P, necessary to the body of conception, order and change in life:

P= { p(i) | i = 1, 2, 3 } =  {assignment, manifestation, containment}.

Supervening on these forces are a symmetrical set G of psychosomatic states: G={self,others}, symbolizing unity and plurality, and; a symmetrical set T of biophysical states: T={open,closed}, symbolizing propagation and restriction. When the objects of these sets are crossed, they reveal a fixed (and rich) set of conditions R that marshal the forces P into elementary (and evolutionary) processes or procedures:

R = T x G = { r(j) | j = 1 to 4 }                                                                                   =  {(closed, self),(open, self),(closed, others),(open, others)}.

The objects organized by ‘self’ and ‘others’ are seen as categorical beings objectifying engagement conditions present at all human and social events (wherever these entities are in relevant configurations in the same dimension). The states ‘open’ and ‘closed’ also organize categorical beings. Instantiations of these states objectify boundary conditions. Some may associate these categorical beings with Whitehead’s “controlling presences”. A natural symmetry holds between these objects and conditions R and objects organized by them. Symmetry is found at the root of life itself.

The former conditions objectify natural bonds formed from sensations of attraction and engagement.  This asserts nothing more than that the bare abstractions ‘self’ and ‘others’ stripped of any other associations yet afford a (concrete) sense of attraction and engagement (with unity and plurality) necessary to the formation of bonds.  The latter conditions afford a sense of the scope and constraint of present boundaries (e.g., the scope of space, distance and the constraint of time).

In essence, there are two-sides to each state of being influencing the bonds and organizing the bodies in motion or flux and present at any event.  The intersection of the conditions R with the set of forces P objectifies the valence of binding, unifying and organizing significant objects, forces and conditions into procedural states of being.

The selection and formulation of physical procedures — composed in respect to R of P — determines the type of polarity in the relationships R that ensue; whether applying or acting on the creative force of nature as implied by words and language. Adi derived four perceptible types of orientations from the crossing of boundary and engagement conditions. The valence of relationships R affords a sense of choice or bias; giving direction to, or unfolding: inward, outward, or being jointly or disjointly engaged.

The elementary processes, ‘Assignment’, ‘Manifestation’, and ‘Containment’, comprising the set of physical forces P within our dominion, are easily recognized as the creative forces of change when transformed into physical procedures and participatory acts of assigning, manifesting and containing; a capability to change the future in accordance with the conditions of existence R, described above.

Each speaker S marshals these forces and conditions in order to educe (to develop or bring out the latency of X, i.e., the potential of) the idea. The syntactic arrangement of consonant sounds encode symbolic processes that project the physical processes bearing on X.  It is here that there is harmonious agreement (semantics) or fidelity (or not).

Consequent to this view, a speaker S should (naturally) choose words and use language (speech-acts) A in such a way as to designate those physical forces P and (identify) the objects, states and relationships R that bear upon (or will have relevance and bearing to) Speaker S or Listener L or both S and L –from an objective point of view that S and L can and do share.  This prediction was tested by constructing a conceptual search engine (commercialized as Readware) that transforms arbitrary sequences of text and inquiries into values according to this theory. The search engine showed outstanding performance in tests that measure relevance, recall and precision in text retrieval programs. It also passed reading aptitude tests.

The results show that we can indeed construct a general point of view that thereafter predicts relevance and significance in matters presented to that objective viewpoint, one that can be readily implemented in computer logic.  A proprioceptive point of view proves to be an objective point of view; a view that is psychologically sensible to both S and L and that includes a sense of the internal unity of self-awareness and the external plurality of others, as well as a sense of the states of propagation and restriction, as categorical beings in and of themselves.  See the table below for examples.

The logic of the esthesic-side (aesthetic) understanding of language is explained as follows: in order to educe sensation X Listener (/reader) L filters the idea from within the projected sense-data –while decoding speech-act A.  If the idea is apprehended, its meaning is represented by the bearing of the forces of P and R to X; in which case we say that the meaning is induced in L, i.e., it causes the intended sensation X to actually or figuratively occur to L (i.e., appear to represent or symbolize a relevant form of physical power or influence). In such a case the idea and its meaning can/will cause sensation X to occur.  See the examples in the table below:

The Semantic Matrix of Creative Praxis

(the idea of conception)

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It has been some time since my last post and not much has changed with semantic technology except that business slowed for many.  Tom Adi and I have been busy with pending publications, one of which was announced here.  That article has all the details of the algorithms and information technology that were  derived from Tom Adi’s original research

For those that are interested in reading that peer-reviewed article, this post and the links provided here will provide you a framework for understanding the cognitive and semantic theory that is introduced and presented in detail there.  I think it might be hard for database programmers and systems engineers to follow because they are familiar with data reduced by some kind of independent and reductive determinism, such as with a statistical or intentional model.  This involves neither of those techniques.  This implies there is something to learn.

The original research and the unifying  processes described here are used to characterize the determinate elements and operations of an otherwise indeterminate situation.  Characterizing the determinate elements and operations of a situation is part of the scientific process of discovery.  Discovering and characterizing such elements and operations has the character of a learning process and not that of an ideology (the body of ideas reflecting modern-day logical deduction and reductive determinism common of the Internet computing culture).

We were not trying to understand or create data or knowledge or information processing models, except as we conceptualized how to create experiments, test and implement text analytic systems of understanding.  Tom Adi is a computer scientist though his original research and our decades of work together was squarely aimed at understanding how the human mind identifies and interprets the determinate elements of salience while reading expressions from messages and texts.  This is certainly something a human mind does: read and interpret stuff about the world around them.

Understanding the human mind is important to researchers and scientists.  New scientific findings suggest that cognitive skills are activated from outside of individuals, outside of their independent minds and away from their independent being.  This understanding gleaned from studies of apes and children in learning situations, sheds additional light on why computers are unable to intelligently learn from AI models, by reason of logical patterns, by statistics or by other models of intentional semantics.

This Nova program series about Ape Genius, highlights studies of a variety of primates, including humans.  The research focuses on the capability to learn, to respond to reward and gesture, and on experiments that measure cognitive and intelligent task mastery.

This research points out that a big difference between the other primates and humans is found in the capacity to teach.  Humans differ from other apes in that human children are taught and may even anticipate being taught. Researchers found what they called a magic Triangle, the social situation where a student and a teacher are focused upon a substantive object. They see this as the key to why this world is not the Planet of the Apes, instead of it being the domain of human beings as it is.

A similar sort of thing happens when a reader focuses attention onto an instructive piece of writing as this post may be found to be, that is:  the same forces and influences come into play as those that exist between an independent teacher, a student and a substantive object (or subject) of attention: the Triangle –here between author, reader and the subject of the post.

This Triangle exists in logic and in the conventional functionality involved in all interpersonal communications including film media.  Consider the reference to the planet of the apes above.  I am invoking the Triangle to put the focus of attention on the semiotic of the film: that we could just as well be digging termites from mounds in the jungle, if we did not already realize that we have this capacity to recognize the conceptual interdependence between teaching, learning and the substance of existence– from its semiotic character. To bring this out of one’s subconscious mind means one must bring the substance of the concept to the attention and into the mind and struggle to hold and absorb it –that is the capacity to recognize existing interdependency.

In fact, while one can readily separate everything in their world into emotion, feelings, knowledge, beliefs, desires, demons, angles, tools, material goods and artifacts and what have you, there are two possibilities of the existence of such things.  There is the stuff of the conception and the stuff of physical matter.  Any sensuous impression or perception falls into the extension of the conception or into the extension of physical matter.  We can write that any thing belongs to either the physical substance S of their existence or to a conception C of that existence, that conscious being as it is, is cognizant that there is a material equivalence between them (has a prior knowledge that there is interdependency between the physical and conceptual substance of existence).

And I should further define it here as that unified being: a Triangle of interdependently conscious understanding Ui working on a system comprised of physical substance S and of the conception C or Ui[S,C] where the conception of existence C is materially equivalent to the physical substance of existence S in a logical sense (C<==>S). The implication (meaning) is that the conception C is true only when the substance S is true otherwise the conception C is false (in a logical sense).

In a material sense, there is a transformation of substantive and salient impressions into a conception of that substance.  The transformation can be seen as a cognitive learning process. One can conceive of that transformation as part of one’s intelligence or cognitive processes, though because it is a biological system, its operations, elements and processes appear to have a relative structure very much like the metabolic elements, operations and processes where molecules are transformed into metabolites according to the combined structure of determinate elements and the needs of the organism.

In this way one can conceive of their cognitive system of conception [S,C] in the same way one conceives of their own Metabolic Repair system [M,R].  The purpose of the conception can then be seen as the innate capability to repair the substance of one’s own existence just as one’s own metabolism repairs their own body.  The implication is that we can repair this existence.

You have probably not heard of the human intelligence and the elements, operations and thematic relations of the cognitive processes being equated to the metabolism before.  This is because it is an original idea.  There are many implications of this projection of reality, which I trust the reader will bring to their mind as they consider what has been reported here. Most important is the significance and priority of interdependence over independence, though the realization of the unifying purpose of the conception is individually liberating.  It has the power we need to change the world in which we exist.  The prospect of unifying humanity against disorder and chaos is not as daunting when the natural interdependency of existence is considered.

Now it is important to everyone that their conception and their being here in this place we call the world, is unified and not schizophrenic– otherwise we will have chaos and misunderstanding. A schizophrenic existence is one where the elements of the existence are not only disjointed, they are disparate and even antagonistic. Because that is how people are today –disjointed, with disparate opinions and beliefs and antagonistic feelings– we have a serious situation that is in need of repair. Didn’t you know, people feel disconnected, even unaccountable.  There are reasons for this.

I will come back to the unifying processes of the unified conception, which is the conceptual part of meaning of conceptual interdependence, in the next post.  In this post I want to define the importance of the interdependence part and introduce the reader to the social influences that were invented to divert people from the power of their own autonomous reasoning, and instead keep them in line and under control as a whole– that will come down below.

Returning now to the interdependent structure; unlike intradependence which expresses the inward functionality of the elements of wholeness, the unifying processes and their orientation, the functions of interdependence must reach outward away from the self and towards others. Still, maybe a little surprisingly for some readers, these are unifying processes implementing a unifying process.  The implication is that reunification will be achieved in the end. Considering how far barely unified nations of people have advanced the race, it begs the question why we cannot achieve a unified world order in our lifetime.

There is a way, though before you can recognize it, you must first consider and acknowledge that there are extensions to functional and thematic relations as well as intensions to all social relations.  The extensions of the thematic relations between the self and others are called social or interpersonal and these situations and states of affairs are addressed by social interdependence theory.  Nouns and verbs and other descriptive and lexical elements of language and its grammatical conventions fall into these extensions as does knowledge, beliefs, opinions, etc.

The intensions of the thematic relations are comprised of the elements, the boundaries and the engagement conditions enveloping and existing between the self and others and from within which motives are activated. These are addressed by conceptual interdependence theory which states that there are conceptually interdependent boundaries and engagement conditions that are uniformly projected (according to precedence and by way of an extended projection principle) onto the unifying and determinate elements underlying every state of affairs.

In this respect, it does not matter if the substance of that existence has physical or conceptual properties or attributes –as such properties and attributes are neither distinct nor separate.   What is of significant importance to the Triangle is the fulfillment of geometric points and angles in the construction of its structure: i.e.,  teaching/teacher and student each focusing attention onto a substantive object is a: conceptual structure.  This structure is the subject matter of Adi’s cognitive and semantic theory.

This conceptual structure can be understood from the ways a situational analysis is conducted according to social interdependence theory.  In their 2008 paper, Why We Need Interdependence Theory,  social psychologists Caryl E. Rusbult and Paul A. M. Van Lange, write in the abstract on social influence:

Interdependence theory identifies the most important characteristics of interpersonal situations via a comprehensive analysis of situation structure and describes the implications of structure for understanding intrapersonal and interpersonal processes. Situation structure matters because it is the interpersonal reality within which motives are activated, toward which cognition is oriented and around which interaction unfolds.

In a very similar fashion, the thematic relations of my conceptual interdependence theory (comprised of my interpretation of Adi’s cognitive and semantic theories) identifies the significant characteristics of the Triangle, that is; the interpersonal reality within which teaching and learning motives are activated, toward which cognition is oriented and around which interaction and representation (speech, reading, writing and arithmetic) unfolds.

These themes, unlike their extensions, are not linguistic, but are pre-linguistic, in their origins.  The necessary thematic relations are not given by nouns and verbs or other parts of speech. You can easily recognize the polar coordinates of pairs of adjectives like good or bad, fast and slow, pretty and ugly, yet such extensions of concepts have little to do with the inherent boundaries of conceptual interdependence except to demonstrate such interdependence in the existential objects and subjects they denote in their extension or reference.

The philosophy of language does not adequately account for the word structure, nor of the elements, operations or the interdependency of the thematic relations indicated by internal structure.  What does a noun have to do with activating and focusing the attention?  What primacy of the gestalt is captured by the verb?  If you go down that road, as many researchers have, all you end up with is shifting assumptions, nearly whimsical conventions and delusional though deductive relativism.

Because Information scientists depended on the faulty ideas of a few linguists, this explains why AI models are unable to learn on their own; the thematic relations identified by linguists with their various natural language and grammatical models are not the thematic relations we need for capturing conceptual, social or any other kind of interdependence outside the syntax of the sentence.

Yet –at the foundation of the understanding there are these thematic relations on which all teaching, language, communication, logic and mathematics continually revolve and from which ideas and thought arise.  I will get into them a little deeper in my next post. There I will take up the unity of being, the unity of the conception and the system of understanding the world as an anticipatory system Ui[S,C] introduced briefly above.

Here below I want to offer the reader this comprehensive treatment of the subject of social influence in the form a four part (four hour) BBC documentary series.  After watching this series, I trust you will agree with me that in order to keep from being duped by all those who would control our deepest emotions and desires; we must know the elements and operations that are used for that control so that we are able to recognize it and learn to avoid its effects when such control affects our own lives.

How we (the American culture) were drawn in to this present day reality, and how we are affected by powerful influences without even knowing it, is plainly portrayed in this BBC documentary. In light of present day economic circumstances it presents a chilling commentary on what got us here and it may be a harbinger of what is yet to come.

Each part is about one hour and I realize how difficult it is for some people to pay attention for more than a few minutes. But if you are less than one hundred years old, you will find much of this relevant and quite interesting. If you are socially and politically conscious, it will be even more worth the time it takes to watch, I promise.

The Century of the Self

* Century of the Self, Part I, Happiness Machines
* Century of the Self, Part II, The Engineering of Consent
* Century of the Self, Part III, There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed
* Century of the Self, Part IV, Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

After watching the series, ask yourself:  Can the American Self realize its interdependence after centuries of hard won independence? Chances are, you will be able to judge in your lifetime.  Leave your opinion as a comment here below.  I’ll be back within a few weeks with the followup post on the unity of being and the unity of the conception.

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I would like to address the few questions I received on the three parts 1,2 and 3 of the semantics of interpersonal relations. The first and most obvious questions was:

I don’t get it. What are the semantics?

This question is about the actual semantic rules that I did not state fully or formally in any of the three parts. I only referred to Dr. Adi’s semantic theory and related how the elements and relations of language (sounds and signs) correspond with natural and interpersonal elements and relations relevant to an embodied human being.

Alright, so a correspondence can be understood as an agreement or similarity and as a mathematical and conceptual mapping (a mapping on inner thoughts). What we have here, essentially, is a conceptual mapping. Language apparently maps to thought and action and vice-versa. So the idea here is to understand the semantic mechanism underlying these mappings and implement and apply it in computer automations.

Our semantic objects and rules are not like those of NLP or AI or OWL or those defined by the semantic web. These semantic elements do not derive from the parts of speech of a language and the semantic rules are not taken from propositional logic. And so that these semantic rules will make more sense, let me first better define the conceptual space where these semantic rules operate.

Conceptually, this can be imagined as a kind of intersubjective space. It is a space encompassing interpersonal relationships and personal and social interactions. This space constitutes a substantial part of what might be called our “semantic space” where life lived, what the Germans call Erlebnis, and ordinary perception and interpretation (Erfahrung) intersect, and where actions in our self-embodied proximity move us to intuit and ascribe meaning.

Here in this place is the intersection where intention and sensation collide, where sensibilities provoke the imagination and thought begets action. It is where ideas are conceived. This is where language finds expression. It is where we formulate plans and proposals, build multidimensional models and run simulations. It is the semantic space where things become mutually intelligible. Unfortunately, natural language research and developments of “semantic search” and the “Semantic-Web” do not address this semantic space or any underlying mechanisms at all.

In general when someone talks about “semantics” in the computer industry, they are talking either about English grammar, rdf-triples in general or they are talking about propositional logic in a natural or artificial language, e.g., a data definition language, web services language, description logic, Aristotelian logic, etc. There is something linguists call semantics though the rules are mainly syntactic rules that have limited interpretative and predictive value. Those rules are usually applied objectively, to objectively defined objects, according to objectively approved vocabulary defined by objectively-minded people. Of course, it is no better to subjectively define things. Yet, there is no need to remain in a quandary over what to do about this.

We do not live in an completely objective, observable or knowable reality, or a me-centric or I-centric society, it is a we-centric society. The interpersonal and social experience that every person develops from birth is intersubjective — each of us experience the we-centric reality of ourselves and others entirely through our own selves and our entirely personal world view.

Perhaps it is because we do not know and cannot know– through first-hand experience at least– what any others know, or are presently thinking, that there is this sort of dichotomy that sets in between ourselves and others. This dichotomy is pervasive and even takes control of some lives. In any case, conceptually, there is a continuum between the state of self-realization and the alterity of others. This is what I am calling the continuum of intersubjective space.

A continuum of course, is a space that can only be divided arbitrarily. Each culture has their own language for dividing this space. Each subculture in a society have their own language for dividing this space. Every technical field has their own language for dividing the space. And it follows, of course, that each person has their own language, not only for dividing this space, but for interacting within the boundaries of this space. The continuum, though, remains untouched and unchanged by interactions or exchanges in storied or present acts.

The semantics we have adopted for this intersubjective space include precedence rules formulated by Tom Adi. Adi’s semiotic axioms govern the abstract objects and interprocess control structures operating in this space. Cognitively, this can be seen as a sort of combination functional mechanism, used not only for imagining or visualizing, but also for simulating the actions of others. I might add that while most people can call on and use this cognitive faculty at will, its use is not usually a deliberate act; it is mainly used subconsciously and self-reflexively.

We can say that the quality of these semantics determine the fidelity of the sound, visualization, imitation or simulation to the real thing. So when we access and use these semantics in computer software as we do with Readware technology, we are accessing a measure of the fidelity between two or more objects (among other features) . This may sound simplistic though it is a basic level cognitive faculty. Consider how we learn through imitation. Note to self: Don’t leave out the cognitive load to switch roles and consider how easily we can take the opposite or other position on almost any matter.

We all must admit, after careful introspection, that we are able to “decode” the witnessed behavior of others without the need to exert any conscious cognitive effort of the sort required for describing or expressing the features of such behavior using language, for example. It may be only because we must translate sensory information into sets of mutually intelligible and meaningful representations in order to use language to ascribe intentions, order or beliefs, to self or others, that the functional mechanism must also share an interface with language. It may also be because language affords people a modicum of command and control over their environment.

Consider the necessity of situational control in the face of large, complex and often unsolvable problems. I do not know about you, but I need situational control in my environment and I must often fight to retain it in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems and daily ordeals.

Now try and recognize how the functional aspects of writing systems fill a semiotic role in this regard. Our theoretical claim is that these mutually intelligible signs instantiate discrete abstract clusters of multidimensional concepts relative to the control and contextualizing of situated intersubjective processes.

Like the particles and waves of quantum mechanics are to physics, these discrete intersubjective objects and processes are the weft and the warp of the weaving of the literary arts and anthropological sciences on the loom of human culture. We exploited this functional mechanism in the indexing, concept-analysis, search and retrieval software we call Readware.

We derived a set of precedence rules that determine interprocess control structures and gave us root interpretation mappings. These mappings were applied to the word roots of an ancient language that were selected because modern words derived from these word roots are used today. These few thousand root interpretations (formulas) were organized into a library of concepts, a ConceptBase, used for mapping expressions in the same language and from different languages. It was a very successful approach for which we designed a pair of ReST-type servers with an API to access all the functionality.

To make this multi-part presentation more complete, I have posted a page with several tables drawn up by Tom Adi, along with the formal theory and axioms. There are no proofs here as they were published elsewhere by Dr. Adi. These tables and axioms identify all the key abstract objects, the concepts and their interrelationships. Tom describes the mappings from the base set (sounds) and the axioms that pertain to compositions and word-root interpretations, together with the semantic rules determining inheritance and precedence within the control structures. You can find that page here.

And that brings me to the next question, which was: How can you map concepts between languages with centuries of language change and arbitrary signs? The short answer is that we don’t. We map the elements of language to and from the elements of what we believe to be are interlinked thought processes that form mirror-like abstract and conceptual images (snapshots) of perceptive and sensory interactions in a situated intersubjective space.

That is to say that there is a natural correspondence between what is actually happening in an arbitrary situation and the generative yet arbitrary language about that situation. This brings me to the last question that I consider relevant no matter how flippant it may appear to be:

So what?

The benefits of a shared semantic space should not be underestimated. Particularly in this medium of computing where scaling of computing resources and applications is necessary.

Establishing identity relations is important because it affords the self-capacity to better predict the consequences of the ongoing and future behavior of others. In social settings, the attribution of identity status to other individuals automatically contextualizes their behavior. By contextualizing content, for example, knowing that others are acting as we would effectively reduces the cognitive complexity and the amount of information we have to process.

It is the same sort of thing in automated text processing and computerized content discovery processes. By contextualizing content in this way (e.g, with Readware) we dramatically and effectively reduce the amount of information we must process from text, to more directly access and cluster relevant topical and conceptual structure, and to support further discovery processes. We have found that a side-effect to this kind of automated text-analysis is that it clarifies data sources by catching unnatural patterns (e.g., auto-generated spam) and it also helps identify duplication and error in data feeds and collections.

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For all those just joining me on this multi-part post, in this part I will write about how we derived computational objects by abstracting them from the significant or semantic properties of being a human in this world.

I will also introduce you to the notion that the sounds of natural language indicate and interpret compound objects representing all possible actions or (human) processes, and the boundary and engagement conditions of personal action and interaction. Besides that, throughout this piece, I will also note where this sort of theoretical model fits and compares with modern computer technologies. So that I can give all these aspects proper consideration, this part will be slightly longer than the previous two parts.

We want to model interpersonal relations on computers because computer software does not relate to the environment of people or the world that we inhabit very well if at all. Now that the search engine is a common appliance, more and more people are realizing that despite decades of costly research, computers are nearly clueless of the implications of words and common expressions.

It goes beyond search engines to computational semiotics. A lot of people have trouble interfacing with computers. I believe this is because there is no framework for computers to understand people. People have empathy towards each other. What do computers have? Maybe if the computer were more understanding, we would have better computer interfaces.

If computers are ever going to “understand” people better it makes sense to start by identifying with people and their environment. Understanding something or someone always begins by identifying with the situation. Most computer software does not do that; data is generally a dry and often drastic reduction of the situation. Natural language, for instance, is reduced to its terms and their parts of speech.

Term vectors in text processing systems are statistics of the occurrence of terms in documents and in collections of documents. They are a representation of text that the computer simply and blindly records and accounts for without any consideration for any other relationships beyond the needs of the application. This is not very intelligent. The term “computational semiotics” intuitively suggests that we use a science of meaning to create useful and intelligent computer programs.

One place computers are trying to achieve more intelligent processing is in text and document analysis. Here, in this and related fields of Information Retrieval (IR), a “better understanding” is measured according to recall, precision and relevance. Partly due to the growth of web pages on the Internet, a major focus of advance systems development is on Natural Language Processing (NLP) and text search and retrieval, or the search engine.

In modern indexing and computer classification systems, terms are extracted and term vectors are considered using local information from a text (its terms and sometimes its structure) and “global” information from collections of texts or documents. Considering that most texts are about interrelationships between people and things or principles in the world, it seems modern computer systems may be missing something.

Consider the interrelationships of any text to everyday affairs. Consider Aesop’s fables, and then consider how most of the text on the Internet is, at its root, about the interrelationships between people and their environment. This is the problem with term vector schemes. The signs are not interrelated to everyday affairs in the world and this is why there are limits to these computer methods and systems.

If I know what to look for on the Internet, I can look up documents, articles and references, about any person or event. Yet even though I am an expert, the experience is not always satisfying. I can ask my wife to watch out for print articles and news that will interest me as she is an avid reader. I don’t have to specify the structural relationship or the Boolean logic or look up any vocabulary for her to use. Obviously computer software cannot do the kind of intelligent processing that my wife can. This is why I am producing Readware: a semantic framework for software engineering of text analysis, classification, search and retrieval applications.

Readware can identify the interrelationships in a text using a call to its API:

rwAnalyze Aesops fable

In the image above, you can see the input string on the left and you can see that the output is a ranked listing of the interrelated topics. The top five categories and topics characterize the categorical implications of this text. The topics are representative of everyday affairs. Readware categories and topics can be used as filing, filtering and routing options in a computer application. Some of them repeat because the topics come from different perspectives.

My company has theory and logic for interrelating expressions on web pages and in messages. We developed our theory and logic into a platform with a well-tested API for use on various sorts of content. We developed our computational solution at about the same time people were thinking of WordNet and the Internet and before the Semantic Web.

Theory is harder to adopt than standards in the modern engineering communities of software developers and computer programmers. The Semantic Web has enjoyed tremendous support. Their philosophy also follows in the traditional practices of AI where you identify all the special properties and relations of everything in your content. The only difference with the Semantic Web is that those folks want you to use web formats and standards for your data that put it in a form that is provable using the various implements and standards endorsed by the W3C (OWL, RDF, XML, etc.).

So that I am clear, there is no theory of semantics, interpersonal, or otherwise, in the confines of the Semantic Web. Nowhere in any of the published standards of the W3C will you find any hint of the properties and relations of interpersonal semantics. Most AI theory has been focused on NLP methods from mainstream linguistics along with functional grammars that have been around since the 1960’s. Not that it is bad, they have been at it a little longer than Tom Adi and myself. I just mean that none of these well-funded systems have enjoyed ultimate success; otherwise this topic would be moot.

Google and several other companies have risen to prominence using search engine technology that indexes the full text of documents, articles and web pages. They showed that you don’t need expensive language processing and AI methods. Google supplemented the text with a quickly calculated popularity measure. This measure made it possible for Google’s search engine to provide the most popular links in their results. However, if your query is the least bit ambiguous it will not matter how popular the sites in the results are because they will be more or less irrelevant.

Besides Google, the recently arrived alternative technology to the Semantic Web are highly refined (and very expensive) NLP systems, and “semantic search engines” represented by great organizations, such as Hakia and PowerSet. You can see for yourself that these NLP systems do not “understand” much in the way of the world. While they are called “natural language systems” you cannot have a conversation with them. If you could, you would find that they have very limited knowledge of the way things really fit together.

This effect can be seen at the new Semantic Web based online search service for news and current events called Silobreaker, where they claim:

It recognises people, companies, topics, places and keywords; understands how they relate to each other in the news flow, and puts them in context for the user.

I tested that out on Tuesday, 12 February 2008. I clicked on a link to Presidential candidate Barrack Obama, from the Silobreaker front page. I was expecting to be shown something about Barrack Obama. Instead I was presented with a network graph:

Valid Relationships ??
It reportedly drew a relationship between Barack Obama and Justin Timberlake in the context they identified as a story from the Denver Post entitled “West, Winehouse take early Grammy lead”. It did the same for the other artists listed in the graph.

Frankly, it is just too much information for me. In this instance, it is adding to information overload because there really isn’t any relationship there. The relationship, if any, is between the Grammy Awards and the people mentioned. There is no relationship between Barack Obama and Justin Timberlake. It is wrong to infer otherwise from the context.

Part of the problem here is that the Grammy Awards are not a known entity in this static entity relationship model. The problem stems from the lack of comprehension of the interpersonal relationships involved in the context.

Neither the Semantic Web, nor AI, nor natural language processing can solve this problem. The problem is that natural language understanding is too naive and the truth-based semantics are too superficial. Yet, scientists have been reluctant to delve too deeply into the abyss of personal psychology and interpersonal beliefs on the basis that such beliefs are illogical and unscientific.

We did not buy that argument then or now. The basis or ground rules of interpersonal relationships are often characterized as psychotic and pathological, religious zealotry or astrological nonsense, although more concrete grounds have existed. No one thought of abstracting from the possibility of personal action devoid of any other notions.

That is how we are born, devoid of belief, character, nationality, philosophy or religion. It is only after grasping sounds and a language that people start filling their minds with these notions. While I have been subject to these dubious notions, Tom Adi drew us both to elements abstracted from existence and action. We found them right there, literally in front of our face, and in the smallest elements of meaning in natural language.

In part 1, I began by presenting my experience with computer systems and how we began looking for natural systems and their semantics. In part 2, I identified two indispensable sets of universal properties represented by being human: 1) a body-centered reference, and: 2) power. I trust my reader perceives these properties as self-evident.

My claim is that these properties are an affordance of individual influence and worldview. Recall in parts 1 and 2, I explained that a major premise of this work is that the elements and relations of natural languages should correspond with (the elements and relations of) other systems of natural phenomena at all times.

In the original research that I cited in part 2, Dr. Tom Adi found a natural correspondence between elements of natural language systems (sounds/phonemes) and the abstract objects used in individual cognition or recognition. I am going to expand on his finding and show how the semantics he proposed correspond with the actions and interactions of people.

The fundamental elements of language are its signs. Linguists have told us that words are signs; so are names. These signs are linguistic signs that reflect elements of social conventions and elements of design and even some modicum of chance. The same signs also reflect the power and influence of the individual voice and imagination. The fact that this power is latent in words and in text means that it is present and accessible in the unconscious mind but not consciously expressed.

This supports my charge that something is missing when all that we are left with is an alphabetical index of keywords. Using NLP on sentences of a text to decompose it into nouns, verbs and other parts of speech does not capture or address the power and influence afforded by the author, and therefore, computer processed text looses its luster, it looses its possibility for action and it looses its capacity to influence the reader.

This is another reason the linguistic, NLP or AI-like approaches to the problem of understanding the functional role of language do not work very well. When they parse a text into sentences and a bag of words, they leave out the import of words. By that I mean that modern text processing methods miss the part that carries or holds the meaning– the influential part — the significant part.

Hidden in the smallest particles of meaning, the phoneme, are elements of action (power) and interaction, these are abstract signs of the conditions existing in social interactions. They are abstractions of the boundary and engagement conditions afforded by our body-centered reference. The interpretation of meaning appears to flow from the axis of the abstractions of power and those of the perceived boundary and engagement conditions.

In psychological studies of the interpersonal relationships between people, psychologists agree that people interact implicitly and explicitly. People can be focused on the interaction, as in a sales situation, or unfocused and interacting, as people together on a bus going to the same ball game, for example. I do not want to take you from here all the way to social psychology and symbolic interactionism though both of these fields are related to what we are talking about here because language is our main tool for socialization.

I will borrow terms and polarities from social psychology and interpersonal relations, such as implicit/explicit, focused/unfocused, and open/closed, to explain the boundary and engagement conditions. In “Society as Symbolic Interaction” (1962): Herbert Blumer claimed that people interact with each other by interpreting or defining each other’s actions instead of merely reacting to each other’s actions.

Blumer wrote that the response of people is not made directly to the actions of one another but instead is based on the meaning which they attach to such actions. We do not disagree that human interaction is mediated by the use of symbols and signification, by interpretation, or by ascertaining the meaning of one another’s actions.

Interaction is always (at the very least) bipolar. Because interaction is a fundamental pillar of group dynamics it should come as no surprise that polarity is a feature of the language used by the group. We found that polarity is represented by compound abstract objects related to boundary and engagement conditions. In the book Semiotics and Intelligent Systems Development, Tom Adi wrote:

We believe that the phonemes of a word are signs that refer to abstract objects that are somehow related to the properties of the object to which the word refers:

    word X refers to object A
    each phoneme P of word X refers to an abstract object B
    abstract object B is related to property T of object A

Moreover, we believe that the human mind constantly interprets such abstract objects and that the resulting interpretations also can be abstract objects that may in turn be reinterpreted. Both the original abstract objects and their successive interpretations are related to the properties of the object to which the word refers.

    abstract object BP is interpreted as abstract object B’P
    abstract object B’ is related to property T’ of object A

In addition, we believe that the morphology of a word, its structure, is also a sign that refers to an abstract object structure that is somehow related to the structure of the object to which the word refers. The human mind also constantly interprets and reinterprets this abstract object structure.

    structure of word X refers to an abstract object structure S
    abstract object structure S is related to structural property T of object A
    abstract object structure S is interpreted as abstract object structure S’
    abstract object structure S’ is related to structural property T of object A

The repeated interpretation of the abstract objects to which the phonemes of a word refer, in light of the repeated interpretation of the abstract structure to which the morphology of that word refers, will establish more and more relationships in the human mind to the properties of the object to which that word refers. We call this principle cognitive growth by reinterpretation.

A similar growth by reinterpretation is found in biosemiotics, the study of DNA as signs of life processes. In the book “Signs of Meaning in the Universe“, Jesper Hoffmeyer wrote that Repeated DNA interpretation produces biological growth along a path called the ontogenetic trajectory. This parallel is not surprising since human cognition is born of human life processes. We expected to find relations of symmetry between the abstract objects to which phonemes refer since language is a natural phenomenon and there usually is symmetry in nature.

In Tom Adi’s study of the Arabic language he found that certain sounds interpret a compound abstract object he named closed and self as an interpretation of the influence on his mind. Certain sounds interpreted the compound objects open and self to his mind. He arranged these sounds in symmetrical columns and found that the sounds in these two columns expressed a kind of polarity, he called inward and outward.

He expected to find similar abstract objects interpreted by the remaining sounds and he found the abstract objects, closed, others and open, others. And he arranged those sounds according to the polarity they expressed, that of, focused interface, and its inverse, unfocused interface.

In English, sounds are far more ambiguous, yet they can be arranged in a similar fashion. By examining small words with a single consonant or sound we can see how the sounds of English interpret the same abstract objects. The personal pronoun “I” indicates the bipolar object: closed, self. This expression (I) directs attention inward with the focus on self. Its counterpart, the personal pronoun “You” indicates the symmetrical compound object: open, others. Our attention is directed outward and the other is targeted.

How about the pronouns “We” and “Us”. These interpret the compound object: closed, interface. Our attention is directed to a collective of objects or entities as in ‘bringing us together’. Its symmetrical counterpart: open, interface, is indicated by the personal pronoun “He”. It is not neither of us but a third person, him. It is the symmetrical opposite of we and us, it is they and them.

Now, with the principle of cognitive growth by reinterpretation in mind, as I mentioned above, try to imagine yourself a small child before acquiring language, if you can. Imagine how often you might hear just these sounds and the situations in which they are used. Imagine how often you would interpret these sounds, at first tentatively to be sure, and then with more confidence, as the learning became ingrained in your mind and in the neurons of the brain.

It seems that every phoneme, every element of meaning, in a natural language interprets a single compound abstract object, in the same way as I have shown for the personal pronouns of English. These abstract objects are called compound because each is composed of the abstraction of a definite set of boundary and engagement conditions.

Most consonantal sounds of a natural language also indicate an abstraction of power. This is an action predicate defining specific sorts of processes. Action may appear to just be, while it is really built up; it is a construction. According to Blumer and his teacher Mead, action is built up step-by-step through self-indication. Tom Adi recognized the objects he found as basic categories of abstraction. This is a set of elementary categories for all types of identification, all types of manifestation, and all types of ordering.

Identification deals with identities The sounds of words dealing with identities are who, which, I, you, we, he, it and units and elements one, a, an (the bold letters emphasize the chief sound). Those are static interpretations. Dynamic interpretations include assignments (at, and, a-) and existence (is, are, on, off, at).

Manifestation is the way things present or manifest themselves. The sounds of these words indicate this abstraction: Matter, mass, medium, field, pool, form, domain and theme are examples of static manifestation. Motion, formation, phase, application and doing exemplify dynamic manifestation.

Ordering is expressed by the sounds of the English words: numbers, names, quality, quantity, quick, quadrate, quarter, as well as energy and force (knock, quake, quench, quell), awareness , perception and feeling (notice, qualm, numb), sound (ring, quiet) and cognition (know). The negative meaning of no, non-, un-, in-, etc. comes from the bipole attached to n. In English, negation is an organizing act.

These elementary categories expand into a power set of eight categories that are represented by all the sounds/phonemes in the language.  Many consonantal sounds form bonds (inside a word) that interpret combined actions or processes.

I see this piece has gotten rather long. My aim was not to make a complete presentation but to highlight some of the features of the approach and intelligent computer software I am producing. I hope that I have clarified that personal action and the dynamic boundary and engagement conditions relevant to every situation give way to the interpretation of meaning from language. If I get to another post on this subject, it will explore the bonds of abstract objects inside words and how meaning is composed in ways similar to how action is constructed.

As always, feel free to leave me a comment by clicking the link to comments below.

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If “literature” is “the imaginative and creative writing of a language, period or culture” the blogs, new media and web pages of (so-called) social media qualifies as the new literature. One could say that online news, health and finance sites, the “e-zines” and the several hundred million web logs or blogs comprise a growing part  of the classic literature of our time.

According to a Nobel prize winner Issac Bashevis Singer– emotion and intellect are essential poles of literature.

“The very essence of literature is the war between emotion and intellect, between life and death. When literature becomes too intellectual — when it begins to ignore the passions, the motions — it becomes sterile, silly, and actually without substance.” –in the New York Times Magazine, November 26, 1978

It is the reason why many so-called “expert systems” and intelligent or “semantic” information systems are the way the are: they haven’t much substance. Emotional and interpersonal relevance is illogical, of course … unscientific … It explains why programmers, software developers and product engineers cannot fathom the interpersonal and social relations within the media. Search engine developers cannot capture and index human emotion.

Neither software developers nor product engineers can quantify or computationally relate the affairs of the human intellect. Logicians are not able to assign a truth value to passion, let alone determine what relations essence may enjoy or which of a myriad of ephemeral forms of matter have substance worth computing. Creating a system for indexing, searching and relating social media is not like creating an accounting system. There are no general rules of the affairs of the human imagination. It is not a membership or inventory management system and human psychology is not easily captured with traditional software engineering principles.

Therefore: No big names are researching the emotional and interpersonal structure– the powerful foundation –on which all sorts of human affairs and institutions rest. There are no big computational engineering projects designing or building parsers that can get at the emotional, perceptual and cognitive base of human reason for that would disrupt the present oligarchy.

It is the reason for the resurgence of artificial intelligence techniques in the garb of the semantic web. It is caused by an industry and academic failure: a failure to contemplate what is happening. This widespread failure is no more evident today, than in the Internet-based discussions about more intelligent and so-called “semantic search” engines.

Most of these discussions are highly charged and the noise and rampant neologism is symptomatic of the social confusion and disorder. So it is that the promise of an intelligent web and higher access to knowledge stands in binary opposition to the binds and perils of navigating the social spaces of the Internet. I even read a blog that talked about hardwiring nouns and verbs to make a semantic web.

This is the very reason why people complain about the results they get from search engines as in this recent article, and also in this article. And this video makes us think about the outcome of the superficial, artificial and logical path we are on.

Instead of supporting research and discovery we get the big search engines and major shopping destinations who form alliances to snag our attention. They are not trying to understand what we should want to know; they only want to know what we want to purchase. They vie with one another and a vast host of marketers and hucksters to be the first to offer the right price.

You can find the quote that addresses the search for “the essence of literature”only incidentally because a Nobel prize winner was quoted in a New York Times article. The only reason it shows up in the first page of a search result is because it appears on a large advertiser supported web property that is seen as an authority by the major search engines. Google supports and extends the oligarchy to all those ready and willing to pay for the use of words while claiming to do no evil.

I am pretty sure that there are plenty of authorities on “social media” if only because billions of dollars are being spent. Try searching for “the essence of social media” on Google and Yahoo. That is a kind of research-type search that could benefit from semantics. Try it on Hakia and Lexxe and PowerSet, the results are better at Hakia but still not satisfying. You can go through the entire list of alternate search engines and you will not get much better results. Speaking of Hakia, let’s look at semantic search.

While the authority at Wikipedia seems to recognize the difference between research and navigational searching, incredulously the entry for ‘semantic search‘ defines it as way of leveraging XML and RDF data from semantic networks. The ‘bark’ disambiguation example is a case in point. Do you think they might be barking up the wrong tree? It makes me wonder whether the author of this entry actually lives in the real world, having never been barked at by a boss or spouse.

I thought: Hakia obviously has a more complete semantic sense of the term “bark” than the systems cited in the ill-informed semantic search entry at Wikipedia. At Hakia I asked: “Are the democrats barking up the wrong tree?” –thinking about their plans to override the president’s veto of the bill extending the children’s health program. It turned out I was wrong. I invite you to go see for your self. The usefulness and “semantic” relevance of ad-supported search pages was characterized as well, as I captured in this clip:

Sponsored Result

There was an article that I was unable to find on any search engine. Neither the results or the sponsored links were satisfying for the big search engines or the so-called “semantic” alternates.

So that no one thinks I am just complaining and have opinions without solutions, I am beginning another article, where I will spell out a solution to the problem. In the meantime, let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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