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The web of semantic truth

April 11, 2009

We lie.  Not always deliberately.  The complexity that underlies reality often twists our tongues and brains to think and say the wrong things.  Convenience trumps integrity.  Our brains revel in discerning and pronouncing patterns that simplify and enable action.  But as wise people have said, it can be disadvantageous to make things simpler than they should.  But on the other hand, time is a force to be reckoned with too – we cannot endlessly analyze things to make sure we vaporize all uncertainty out of our decision-making processes.  Is there a balance to be found between simple views that enable action …  and complex, more realistic models that delay and make our actions less surer?

Can the Semantic Web help?  Can we say things in a simple abstract manner with sweeping generalizations, while being able to drill down into specific statements that collaborate to corroborate such 100,000-foot belief-truths?  If we had a language that allows us do unions and intersections, causes and effects, aggregations and divisions … maybe we would lie a little less.  Or maybe our lies and truths would move us from a binary existence to a grayer blur that deals in probabilities and semi-truths.  Maybe more uncomfortable, but closer to the real world that we live in.

– Balaji Prasad, 4/09

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