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

Martin Doerr martin at ics.forth.gr
Mon Oct 11 21:44:04 EEST 2021

Dear Robert,

Having collaborated with natural history museum colleagues for some 
years and designed a research infrastructure for biodiversity in Greece, 
I understand that they normally do not describe the actions of an 
individual in a way that information integration on the base of the 
individual's animal actions would be needed. They would rather state the 
fact that an individual of type A, showed individual behavior pattern B. 
They would integrate these data on a type base, and not on an individual 
base. We have at FORTH converted Darwin Core data of occurrences of 
individuals into CRMsci representations. That had so far covered the needs.

A colleague in Britain had used, I think, CRM for modelling observations 
of Caledonian Crow observations. Since these crows do not travel, the 
relevant information access and exchange is still on a categorical level.

Migratory birds tracking may be an application, but normally they do not 
describe other behavior than move, in which case we can use a Presence 
construct for the migration paths.

Our collaboration with NHM showed that they often prefer not to use CRM 
for their observation data. In a large European Project, we were forced 
to cheat and rename all CRM concepts, so that they appeared under a 
"BIO" title.

So, in short, we need an expert that would show us practice of modelling 
animal actions individually, and be willing to consider CRM...



On 10/11/2021 9:13 PM, Robert Sanderson wrote:
> Could we clarify what sort of expert we're looking for to move the 
> discussion forward? In particular, natural history museums seem to be 
> at the critical intersection between CIDOC and the activities of 
> animals. I can represent the sorts of documentary evidence from that 
> side, and happy to reach out to colleagues at other NHMs. So I think 
> the first aspect is covered, but I question whether we (as modelers of 
> museum knowledge and documentation) /need/ to understand animal 
> individuality or behavior in order to take the first step of 
> describing an animal performing some action. Conversely, my experience 
> has always been that when there is something to react to, it is much 
> easier to engage with outside specialists.  It is easier to ask for 
> opinions on something than it is to ask them to help come up with the 
> interdisciplinary model.
> I also don't think it makes sense to model animal actors in great 
> detail, down to the same level as the differences between classes in 
> CRMTex for example. The baseline that we need to start with is much 
> simpler.  If there isn't a fine grained concept of animal 
> individuality, I don't think that means we can't model an individual 
> animal at a coarser granularity, just that we shouldn't allow the 
> ontology to describe anything that we don't understand. Even as a 
> non-biologist, I know without any hesitation that the bird laid the 
> egg in the nest in the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and that the 
> herd of dinosaurs created the footprints preserved in Dinosaur State 
> Park up the road from us. I know that a sheepdog can herd sheep and 
> makes decisions about which way to run to accomplish the aim of 
> getting the sheep into the next field (and when I was a little lad 
> played the part of such a sheepdog for my uncle in New Zealand). How 
> does the sheepdog know? Does it know that it knows? If we study 100 
> sheepdogs individually and in groups, what do we learn about 
> sheepdog behavior? I don't care, and I don't think any other museum 
> oriented documentation system would either :)
> Rob
> On Mon, Oct 11, 2021 at 11:50 AM Martin Doerr <martin at ics.forth.gr 
> <mailto:martin at ics.forth.gr>> wrote:
>     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.
>     Best,
>     Martin
>     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
>       Vox:+30(2810)391625
>       Email:martin at ics.forth.gr  <mailto:martin at ics.forth.gr>   
>       Web-site:http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl  <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
  Email: martin at ics.forth.gr
  Web-site: http://www.ics.forth.gr/isl

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