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

Martin Doerr martin at ics.forth.gr
Tue Sep 21 22:04:50 EEST 2021

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...



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 
> <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
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  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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