[Crm-sig] New Issue: Non-human Actors

George Bruseker george.bruseker at gmail.com
Mon Oct 11 16:28:15 EEST 2021


Dear all,

In preparation for the discussion of non-human actors as related to use
cases arising in Linked.Art (inter alia), Rob and I have sketched some
ideas back and forth to try to find a monotonic was to add the agency of
animals in the first instance into CRM (proceeding in an empirical bottom
up fashion) and then see where else we might also get added in (searching
for the sibling class that Martin suggests and the generalization that it
would need).

The linked sketch provides a proposal for discussion. The background is
given already in this issue.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RtKBvAH1N0G8yaE_io6hU2Z8MTBmH_8-/view?usp=sharing
(draw.io)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aCEBtXjW8M0W7qCGe9ozSMeYAH7tJ3Wr/view?usp=sharing
(png)


Here is some argumentation.

Up to now, CRM takes its scope as related to documenting intentional acts
of human beings. Its top level class then has been E39 Actor which gives
properties which allow the assigning of responsibility for an intentional
activity. It has two subclasses, E21 Person and E74 Group. These two kinds
of being have different behaviour, therefore properties, therefore classes.

If we expand the scope (in base or in sci or wherever) to include animal
agency in the first instance, then we must have a way to monotonically
generate this extension (we don't want to just expand the scope of E39
Actor because then we will end up with rabbits being responsible for
financial crises and murders and all sorts of nonsense).

So we want to introduce a sibling class for E39 Actor. Call this biological
agent. Instances can be anything biological. This would obviously be some
sort of a superclass of E21 Person, since all persons are biological actors
as well. It would be a subclass of biological object since all biological
agents must be biological. (but not all things biological are biological
agents)

Then we would want a general class that subsumes the agency of purely human
actors and biological agents. This would be our top class. Here we come up
with a more general notion of agency. Whereas E39 Actor was declared in
order to account for a 'legal persons notion' of agency common to Western
legal systems etc. (and is perfectly adequate for the scope of CRM Base),
this would be a broader notion of agency.

In order to avoid impossible philosophical arguments around self
consciousness, we can give a more externalist scope note / intension to
this class. Agency has to do with those entities which display self
organization and action towards an end from an external perspective. This
way we avoid having to know if the other really has a self. If it looks
like it is acting intentionally and people document it as such, then so it
is.

This now gives us a super class (and eventually super properties) for all
agents.

But wait... we need more.

CRMBase distinguishes between persons and groups. Whereas persons must have
both agency and be individuated corporeal beings, groups do not. Persons
are atomic and irreducible (can't be made up of more persons, can't be
spread over multiple bodies / time zones). Groups are composed of persons
and groups. Groups are inherently collective.

If we wish then to have this same distinction reflected into the biological
domain we would need a class for individual biological agents parallel /
sibling to person and a class for collective biological agents, parallel /
sibling to group.

Doing this one would then need the superclasses to subsume these divisions.
Hence:

Individual Agent: subclass of Agent, superclass of individual biological
agent

Collective Agent: subclass of Agent, superclass of collective biological
agent and human group

This finally allows us to have:

Individual Biological Agent: subclass of Biological Agent and Individual
Agent: used for individual birds, trees, and other biological actors

Collective Biological Agent: subclass of Biological Agent and Collective
Agent: used for flocks, forests and other group biological actors (unlike
human groups, such groups are inherently corporeal)

And at that point we might consider renaming our existing classes to
'human' xxx

So

E39 Human Agent: subclass of agent, no real change in intension, the kind
of entity that can take action for which legal responsibility can be
attributed within human cultures societies

E21 Human Person: no real change in intension but its superclass becomes
individual biological agent and human agent (ie an animal that can be held
legallly responsible for its actions)

E74 Group no real change in intension, but it gains a super class
Collective Agent so it can be queried together with other agent groups.

This analysis does not get into the properties which are, of course,
fundamental but sketches a possible path for creating the structure
necessary to create this extension of scope in such a way that it would
respect the principle of monotonicity in revising the model while allowing
the growth of the model to handle the many use cases of documented animal
agency that fall within CH institution's documentary scope.

Hope this is a good starting point for a constructive discussion!

Best,

George













On Tue, Sep 28, 2021 at 9:30 PM Martin Doerr via Crm-sig <
crm-sig at ics.forth.gr> wrote:

> Dear All,
>
> Robert, all, I think it would be good to have progress in reviewing the
> PARTHENOS model. It contains a quite elaborate model of e-services, and
> makes subtle distinctions beteen maintainers, machines, and software
> installed. A lot of aspects may already be resolved there. The model has
> been implemented and used in a large EU Project.
>
> Best,
>
> Martin
>
> On 9/28/2021 4:07 PM, Robert Sanderson wrote:
>
>
> Yes, understood and agreed :) Was just trying to clarify the process. And
> in particular, the properties (and class hierarchy) are very important.
> Scope notes can be ignored by humans (at their peril), but it's much harder
> to ignore the ontology definition.
>
> For documentation practice, I think most systems I've seen would say that
> software does things, especially in digital preservation where the
> software's actions must be  auditable (if not accountable).  I do worry
> about legal responsibility as a factor in deciding agency/non-agency
> however, given different jurisdictions and legal systems, but I also
> understand the rationale.
>
> R
>
>
> On Tue, Sep 28, 2021 at 8:34 AM Martin Doerr <martin at ics.forth.gr> wrote:
>
>> Dear Robert,
>>
>> Please excuse my sloppy shorthand! Of course I meant that a machine
>> capable of causing events in reaction to external stimuli in a controlled
>> manner is a new class model, AND the reactive events are another new class
>> which should be related, it didn't come to my mind it could be one😁
>>
>> I just expressed my opinion. I have not made any decision. E39 Actor
>> clearly excludes machines and animals so far. My argument is neither
>> philosophy about free will, nor an interpretation of the word "agency",
>> which would be a linguistic argument.
>>
>> From a methodological point of view, the only thing  that matters are the
>> properties we associate with these things in documentation practice.
>> Practice, and not philosophy, is, e.g., that a machine cannot be sued, but
>> those setting them up in this manner. This is different from suing the
>> owner of a tiger.
>>
>> The first thing to look at, in a bottom-up manner we are committed to, is
>> to make ontological distinctions, not extending existing concepts into new
>> domains. There are, to my opinion, much more things that differentiate
>> Actors and Activities from robots and their reactions which I have not
>> listed.
>>
>> Only after we have carefully investigated that there are enough
>> commonalities between originally distinct concepts, we can decide if they
>> warrant a common superclass.
>>
>> Both I have not seen yet.
>>
>> Would that make sense?
>>
>> All the best,
>>
>> Martin
>>
>> On 9/27/2021 11:31 PM, Robert Sanderson wrote:
>>
>>
>> Could it be kept open until there's a clear cost / benefit established,
>> rather than philosophy around free will?
>>
>> For example, if the ontology allows things that should be perdurants to
>> become endurants through agency, then we've messed up a fundamental design
>> decision. For example, a fire might "carry out" the destruction of an
>> object, but it's not an actor. But a self-driving car seems to have more
>> "agency" than the cyanobacteria "responsible" for creating stromatolites (
>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stromatolite). A tiger escapes its
>> enclosure at a zoo and eats a child ... the tiger carried out the eating,
>> but can't be held legally accountable. The zoo on the other hand maybe
>> could be ... but the zoo did not eat the child.
>>
>> There's lots to unpack ... it would be good to determine how far we can
>> unpack it as part of the process, while respecting core design values.
>>
>> R
>>
>>
>> On Mon, Sep 27, 2021 at 3:59 PM Martin Doerr via Crm-sig <
>> crm-sig at ics.forth.gr> wrote:
>>
>>> Dear Mercedes, all,
>>>
>>> My position is that machines are not actors. They are robots, that work
>>> on behalf of human actors, following human instructions. Their use is
>>> regulated by laws concerning those activating them, and not for suing the
>>> machine for its initiatives. There is no fundamental difference to setting
>>> up traps, no matter how complex the machine and its instructions are.
>>> Non-human actors should be restricted to living beings. Robots and traps
>>> and events set in action by them should be each a different category, and
>>> this is a nice, but different, challenge to model as well. Opinions?
>>>
>>> All the best,
>>>
>>> Martin
>>>
>>> On 9/25/2021 1:33 AM, Mercedes Menendez Gonzalez wrote:
>>>
>>> Thank you for the kind words, Martin.
>>>
>>> A brief try, could we find a good example in chess artificial
>>> intelligence? The human and the computer perform equivalent roles as
>>> (participants) players. For instance, the IBM computer named Deep Blue
>>> beated Kasparov in a well-documented match on May 11, 1997, at the
>>> Equitable Center in New York.
>>>
>>> Also, with my apologies if I am misunderstanding things.
>>>
>>> All the best,
>>>
>>> Mercedes
>>> ------------------------------
>>> *De:* Martin Doerr <martin at ics.forth.gr> <martin at ics.forth.gr>
>>> *Enviado:* miércoles, 22 de septiembre de 2021 22:14
>>> *Para:* Mercedes Menendez Gonzalez <UO68235 at uniovi.es>
>>> <UO68235 at uniovi.es>; crm-sig at ics.forth.gr <Crm-sig at ics.forth.gr>
>>> <Crm-sig at ics.forth.gr>
>>> *Asunto:* Re: [Crm-sig] New Issue: Non-human Actors
>>>
>>> Dear Mercedes,
>>>
>>> Thank you for your good comments! What we would need now most are real
>>> data examples tracing individuals.
>>>
>>> All the best,
>>>
>>> Martin
>>>
>>> On 9/22/2021 4:31 PM, Mercedes Menendez Gonzalez wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Dear all,
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Although I am quite new to this, I would like to contribute my opinion
>>> on this interesting topic, if I may.
>>>
>>> I agree that the most suitable option seems to be to create a class or
>>> some new classes for non-human actors. Going back to Rob’s example, I would
>>> say that the bird carries out an intentional action when it designs and
>>> builds the nest with very specific purposes (to lay eggs that have a
>>> specific size, to raise offspring).  We could even think on nest
>>> construction as an individual action as well as a collective behavior.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Best,
>>>
>>> Mercedes
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> *I take the opportunity to thank you for the invitation to participate
>>> in this forum and to introduce myself. I am Mercedes Menéndez, PhD
>>> candidate in Art History at the University of Oviedo, Spain.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Enviado desde Correo <https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=550986>
>>> para Windows
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> *De: *Martin Doerr via Crm-sig <crm-sig at ics.forth.gr>
>>> *Enviado: *Tuesday, September 21, 2021 9:16 PM
>>> *Para: *crm-sig at ics.forth.gr <Crm-sig at ics.forth.gr>
>>> *Asunto: *Re: [Crm-sig] New Issue: Non-human Actors
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Dear Robert,
>>>
>>> I support this.
>>>
>>> I suggest the non-human Actors to go into CRMsci. It is a
>>> straightforward extension of scope, and has been discussed in the past.
>>> Non-human actors cannot be hold liable, and will not report. They are
>>> obviously a sibling to the human actors, and fall under a common
>>> generalization. In the same way, we have generalized over physical things
>>> in CRMsci.
>>>
>>> I think any opinion that animals in general cannot take intentional
>>> actions has been proven non-sense. Conversely, human actions are often
>>> enough instinct driven.
>>>
>>> So far, I do not think we have evidence of conceptual objects created by
>>> non-human actors. Whales may turn out having oral traditions in the future.
>>> Bird songs are, however, partially tradition and not innate, but we miss
>>> the creator individual...
>>>
>>> Best,
>>>
>>> Martin
>>>
>>> On 9/21/2021 5:13 PM, Robert Sanderson via Crm-sig wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Dear all,
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> In working with our natural history museum, we have a need to assign
>>> non-human "actors" to "activities", which is not currently possible.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> I think the easiest case to discuss is the construction of a (collected)
>>> nest by a (known individual) bird.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> We have an identity for the bird (and indeed, we have the remains of the
>>> bird!) and we have an identity for the nest that the bird constructed. We
>>> can estimate the time when the nest was made, and we know exactly where it
>>> was made (due to where it was collected from).
>>>
>>> For example:
>>> https://collections.peabody.yale.edu/search/Record/YPM-ORN-131036
>>>
>>> Or a dinosaur nest, where the adult and the eggs and the nest are
>>> preserved.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> If the bird (or dinosaur) could be an Actor, then it would be easy - the
>>> bird carried out a Production, during the TimeSpan, which produced the
>>> (coughcough)MadeObject, at the Place. However the only thing that can carry
>>> out activities is a human or group thereof.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Similarly, the nest might have been built by a mated pair of birds,
>>> thereby requiring a Group-like construct for non-human actors as well.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> At the moment it seems like the best we can do is
>>> (beginning-of-existence-of-nest)  P12 occurred in the presence of
>>> (bird-as-biological-object), which seems woefully inadequate semantically
>>> as it likely occurred in the presence of a lot of things, including other
>>> birds that didn't actually do anything. The closer subproperty is P11 had
>>> participant, which we can't use as birds cannot be actors.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> This might also relate to other discussions, in particular:
>>>
>>> * Instruments -- the instrument is somehow more responsible for the
>>> measurement than the thing being measured. It is at least "instrumental in"
>>> the measurement, be it digitally or mechanically.
>>>
>>> * Bias -- that animals cannot take intentional actions is a pretty
>>> biased viewpoint. Canis virum mordet, not only vir canem mordet. This might
>>> be extended to un-observable agents -- a culture might believe that a
>>> ghost, spirit, god, or other non-physical entity carried out some action.
>>>
>>> * Software "agents" -- even if the software is acting totally
>>> deterministically at the behest of another actor, a hard determinist might
>>> argue the same for humans.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> We could add a property either something like "instrumental in" with a
>>> broad range (Persistent Item, as super-class of Actor?) that is less about
>>> intent and responsibility, and more concerned with the required-ness of the
>>> entity for the event. Or we could go further and create some new classes
>>> between E77 and E39 that allow limited performance of activities by non
>>> Humans.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Rob
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>>
>>> Rob Sanderson
>>>
>>> Director for Cultural Heritage Metadata
>>>
>>> Yale University
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>>
>>> Crm-sig mailing list
>>>
>>> Crm-sig at ics.forth.gr
>>>
>>> http://lists.ics.forth.gr/mailman/listinfo/crm-sig
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>>
>>> ------------------------------------
>>>
>>>  Dr. Martin Doerr
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>  Honorary Head of the
>>>
>>>  Center for Cultural Informatics
>>>
>>>   Information Systems Laboratory
>>>
>>>  Institute of Computer Science
>>>
>>>  Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>  N.Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton,
>>>
>>>  GR70013 Heraklion,Crete,Greece
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>  Vox:+30(2810)391625
>>>
>>>  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
>>>
>>>  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> ------------------------------------
>>>  Dr. Martin Doerr
>>>
>>>  Honorary Head of the
>>>  Center for Cultural Informatics
>>>
>>>  Information Systems Laboratory
>>>  Institute of Computer Science
>>>  Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
>>>
>>>  N.Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton,
>>>  GR70013 Heraklion,Crete,Greece
>>>
>>>  Vox:+30(2810)391625
>>>  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
>>>  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> --
>>> ------------------------------------
>>>  Dr. Martin Doerr
>>>
>>>  Honorary Head of the
>>>  Center for Cultural Informatics
>>>
>>>  Information Systems Laboratory
>>>  Institute of Computer Science
>>>  Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
>>>
>>>  N.Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton,
>>>  GR70013 Heraklion,Crete,Greece
>>>
>>>  Vox:+30(2810)391625
>>>  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
>>>  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Crm-sig mailing list
>>> Crm-sig at ics.forth.gr
>>> http://lists.ics.forth.gr/mailman/listinfo/crm-sig
>>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Rob Sanderson
>> Director for Cultural Heritage Metadata
>> Yale University
>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> ------------------------------------
>>  Dr. Martin Doerr
>>
>>  Honorary Head of the
>>  Center for Cultural Informatics
>>
>>  Information Systems Laboratory
>>  Institute of Computer Science
>>  Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
>>
>>  N.Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton,
>>  GR70013 Heraklion,Crete,Greece
>>
>>  Vox:+30(2810)391625
>>  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
>>  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl
>>
>>
>
> --
> Rob Sanderson
> Director for Cultural Heritage Metadata
> Yale University
>
>
>
> --
> ------------------------------------
>  Dr. Martin Doerr
>
>  Honorary Head of the
>  Center for Cultural Informatics
>
>  Information Systems Laboratory
>  Institute of Computer Science
>  Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH)
>
>  N.Plastira 100, Vassilika Vouton,
>  GR70013 Heraklion,Crete,Greece
>
>  Vox:+30(2810)391625
>  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
>  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl
>
> _______________________________________________
> Crm-sig mailing list
> Crm-sig at ics.forth.gr
> http://lists.ics.forth.gr/mailman/listinfo/crm-sig
>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.ics.forth.gr/pipermail/crm-sig/attachments/20211011/4ddd9024/attachment-0001.html>


More information about the Crm-sig mailing list