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In contrast with ontology developers concerned with a symbolic or digital environment (e.g. the internet), I draw attention to some features of our 3-D spatio-temporal environment that challenge young …
In contrast with ontology developers concerned with a symbolic or digital environment (e.g. the internet), I draw attention to some features of our 3-D spatio-temporal environment that challenge young humans and other intelligent animals and will also challenge future robots. Evolution provides most animals with an ontology that suffices for life, whereas some animals, including humans, also have mechanisms for substantive ontology extension based on results of interacting with the environment. Future human-like robots will also need this. Since pre-verbal human children and many intelligent non-human animals, including hunting mammals, nest-building birds and primates can interact, often creatively, with complex structures and processes in a 3-D environment, that suggests (a) that they use ontologies that include kinds of material (stuff), kinds of structure, kinds of relationship, kinds of process (some of which are process-fragments composed of bits of stuff changing their properties, structures or relationships), and kinds of causal interaction and (b) since they don't use a human communicative language they must use information encoded in some form that existed prior to human communicative languages both in our evolutionary history and in individual development. Since evolution could not have anticipated the ontologies required for all human cultures, including advanced scientific cultures, individuals must have ways of achieving substantive ontology extension. The research reported here aims mainly to develop requirements for explanatory designs. The attempt to develop forms of representation, mechanisms and architectures that meet those requirements will be a long term research project.