The Language Fallacy
Believing and pretending that languages can be used, as a foundation, to effectively represent, model, manage, entitle,
and share knowledge, is possibly the main language fallacy, in IT, today, especially in this ontological semantics era.
When considering flight, considering that most birds and many insects can do it, typically simply by spreading and moving
their wings to hop off a cliff, rock, or branch, is natural and obvious.
Unfortunately, and while it as clearly been inspirational, at least to human kind, jumping off a cliff, even when spreading
and moving our forward members, even if we properly cover them with feathers, or others,
typically does not help human fly, let alone get to Mars.
Scientifically Understanding Relevant Natural Phenomena
Much more is required, starting with detailed formal scientific understanding of the natural phenomena at stake,
including, aerodynamics, propulsion, material and substance resistance and cohesion, biology, and much more.
With this scientific natural phenomena understanding, humans can now go to Mars, even with "no wings".
The surface view and the effective requirements are clearly two different sets of concepts, albeit somehow complementary.
Languages as Foundations
Similarly, when talking and thinking about Knowledge, reasoning, and even AI,
the common assumption today, is that languages are key foundations,
especially since, from the surface, they seem to carry and structure knowledge.
This is despite the fact that languages have long been known to be the single biggest source of silos.
Clearly, languages are communication tools, proven to be useful to the knowledge sharing process,
but how do they really operate? Do they really carry and/or structure knowledge? If so, how so?
It is interesting to note that:
- communication happens between communicating parties
- communicating parties are required to have common knowledge backgrounds and contexts
- communication effectiveness is directly factored by the shared backgrounds/contexts
- knowledge resides, lives, and grows in the minds of the communicating parties
- with adequate common backgrounds and contexts words like "thing" and "do" seam to carry most meaning
- without adequate common backgrounds/contexts, words like "thing", "do", and most other words do not seem to have any clear
meaning, if any
In fact, a sentence like "the keys are on the table" may seem to mean that the keys are on the table, but,
Typically, what it may mean, for example, may be better summarized along the lines of
"yes, you can borough my car for an hour, to get your spouse at the airport, and take the keys on the table,
since your car is not available, but I know who you are, and where you live,
and I know your spouse, and I trust you, and I know that you have a driver permit and car insurance,
and that there laws, law enforcement resources, and systems, paid from our collective taxes,
that would allow me to get to you, and sew the pants off your back, if you proved unworthy of my trust.
As well, I am lending you the car, not giving it, and you need to bring it back,
assuming full responsibility for any damage or loss, to the car, to anybody,
and to anything else that may be affected in any way.
On the other hand, for now, based on previous common experience,
I assume that you will be worthy of my trust, and if everything goes well,
I invite you and your spouse for a drink and dinner when you return."
Clearly, the words exchanged did not carry any significant meaning of their own,
but where rather used by the emmitters to try to focus the minds of receivers onto knowledge that receivers already have,
in specific sequence, to allow receivers to infer new knowledge from that focus sequence.
Clearly, the knowledge resides in the respective communicating parties, never leaving them.
Each party only infers new knowledge from the mind focus sequence.
All that language does is, given known common knowledge backgrounds, influence communicating parties to infer new (shared)
knowledge, from the mind focus sequence.
Languages can be mind focus tools, but they are not minds, nor knowledge carriers or structures.
To try to have languages to carry specific knowledge, they would have to extremely constrained and frozen, with extensive
but even then, interpretation of the documentation and of the restricted and frozen languages would still be interpreted
in relation to each's contexts and backgrounds.
And even then, they would be very clumsy an inneffective, appart from defining very stiff silos.
This language fallacy does not hold when looking at "the big picture".
Languages are arbitrary and extremely relative communication tools.
They can be used for communication, although with clear restrictions, elaborate constraints, limitations,
complete dependency on knowledge context and background commonality between the communicating parties,
and with and absolute requirement for error detection and correction.
While they can be used for sharing knowledge, they are not knowledge, they do not effectively represent knowledge,
they do not define, nor structure knowledge, and they cannot be effectively,
and should not be, used as a foundations for managing knowledge,
especially as they can only lead to thin, restricted, and arbitrary silos.
Various elements contribute to language propention to silos, starting with the arbitrary, and typically illogical nature
of languages, but probably even more, because of dependency on common knowledge context.
While it may seem natural for to communicating parties to communicate through/in silos, these silos severely clash with
the generality of natural knowledge architecture.
Effectively representing, entitling, modeling, manage, and sharing knowledge, requires more universal, generalied, natural,
and encompassing foundations, that can effectively provide and support unlimited specialization and qualification.
These requirements are especially determining as computing systems are increasingly required to better support knowledge
hence, to better understand, represent, and manage knowledge.
Of course, communication systems are required to help share knowledge, but communication systems are required to complement
and adapt to knowledge management infrastructures, not the other way around.
The good news is that the required principles and knowledge architecture are there, in nature, ready for the picking,
understanding, as well as mapping and integrating at the basis of our information and knowledge management systems and
Many seemingly unexpected solutions also naturally emerge from this effort and understanding,
including the knowledge entitlement required for effectively sharing knowledge,
and for collaboration, our greatest productivity tool.
First, the nature, architecture, and operation principles of knowledge,
integral and fundamental logical components of our universe and cosmos,
need to be better (scientifically) understood.
Afterwords, communications considerations, including languages, notations, and NLP,
should be reconsidered in the light of the better knowledge architecture understanding.