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

Martin Doerr martin at ics.forth.gr
Wed Sep 22 23:14:17 EEST 2021

Dear Mercedes,

Thank you for your good comments! What we would need now most are real 
data examples tracing individuals.

All the best,


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 <mailto:crm-sig at ics.forth.gr>
> *Enviado: *Tuesday, September 21, 2021 9:16 PM
> *Para: *crm-sig at ics.forth.gr <mailto: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
>     <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
>   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>

  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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