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

Martin Doerr martin at ics.forth.gr
Mon Oct 11 18:50:09 EEST 2021

Dear George, Robert,

This makes generally sense to me as a discussion starting point. 
However, I‘d like to remind you that our methodology requires first a 
community practice of doing documentation about such things, and second 
domain experts for concepts that are not our primary knowledge.

To my best knowledge, there does not exist any reliable concept of what 
individuality means across the animal kingdom, nor what a collective of 
such individuals is. There is an unbelievable complexity to these 
questions. We know from experience that any global widening of scope can 
blur all distinctions ontology enginerring relies on. Therefore I'd 
regard it as most important to find the experts first and let them speak.

The reasons why we did not model animal actors is precisely the lack of 
an experts group to communicate with.



On 10/11/2021 4:28 PM, George Bruseker wrote:
> 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 
> <https://drive.google.com/file/d/1RtKBvAH1N0G8yaE_io6hU2Z8MTBmH_8-/view?usp=sharing> 
> (draw.io <http://draw.io>)
> https://drive.google.com/file/d/1aCEBtXjW8M0W7qCGe9ozSMeYAH7tJ3Wr/view?usp=sharing 
> <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

  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
  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl

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