Special Issue "Conceptualization and Semantic Knowledge"
A special issue of AI (ISSN 2673-2688).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2021.
Interests: formal/philosophical logic; logic and cognitive science; knowledge representation; symbolic AI
Until recently topics solely of philosophy and psychology, conceptualization and semantic knowledge are now core concerns in AI. Questions such as “How do humans form, structure, and represent concepts?” and “How do we interpret data and information from the environment?” are now investigated from the viewpoint of what can be covered by the label “semantic AI,” which is currently undergoing redefinition. This is largely web-centered (the Semantic Web), with ontology engineering and NLP methods at the forefront of research, but new trends in AI also focus on how humans share concepts and on structures like semantic bases. In particular, we anticipate that cognitive robotics will constitute a large piece of the cake, with intensive research (re)focusing on the grounding problem and knowledge structures and systems now from a formal semantic perspective. This Special Issue encourages authors to submit their research outcomes in conceptualization and semantic knowledge, in particular output resulting from multi- and interdisciplinary work recruiting, among other fields, knowledge representation, symbolic AI, cognitive modeling, semantic technologies, etc.
Dr. Farshad Badie
Dr. Luis M. Augusto
Manuscript Submission Information
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The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.
Title: Shared Conceptualization and Semantic Knowledge as Ontologies
Authors: Farshad Badie; Luis M. Augusto
Affiliation: 1. Research Group ’Natural and Formal Languages’, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Abstract: 1 What are concepts? Over the years, the term “concept” has been used differently by many philosophers, linguists, cognitive scientists, psychologists, and computer scientists. Despite this variety of approaches, a few aspects concerning concepts, namely their relations to language and the world, are widely agreed upon in what is known as the semiotic triangle (see Fig. 1). In our view, concepts are mental phenomena/entities that are construed by cognitive, and knowledge, agents (henceforth “agents”) in a particular state of awareness [5, 6, 8]. More specifically, concepts are produced/learned based on an individual agent’s conceptualization (of the world), as well as on their social-linguistic interactions and communications, which may require some degree of awareness or take place wholly unconsciously (e.g., [1, 2, 3]). Thus, although agents’ concepts are individually oriented, they are generalized across their experiences of the shared world, and thus they make sense to communities by becoming transformed, synchronized, and shared, being open to revision, update, or even deletion. This means that they have dynamic natures. 2 Concepts and their sharing We are believed to cognize reality by making mental mappings, or identifications (Fig. 1), between things in the world and purely mental entities in such a way that the representation of these entities—concepts—determines specific behaviors, often verbally (e.g., some agent may utter or write the linguistic expression “winter” when representing the concept WINTER), but also in many other ways. For instance, Mary may represent the concept WINTER when she is celebrating Christmas, regardless of the fact that she associates or not the concept WINTER with the specific word “winter”, and despite the large diversity of objects and phenomena that can—by means of her conceptualization—fit into (and/or be subsumed under) her general concept WINTER (e.g., snow, cold, rain, etc.). From a semantic viewpoint, concepts have meanings, or are (interpretable and) meaningful mental entities, in the sense that they identify things that in turn determine behaviors (Fig. 1). In such a framework, any meaning is a (dynamic) conceptual structure which is constructed based on concepts. Then, concepts are the basic materials and are the building blocks of meanings (see e.g., [6, 7]). Importantly, concepts may allow more or fewer instantiations at different times in different places. For instance, for an Eskimo SNOW is a concept that identifies a myriad of snow types (and hence is denoted by a more or less equivalent number of words); this conceptualization is bound to change as—unfortunately—global warming will affect the climate. And WINTER for an Australian is quite different from this concept as shared by a European, for whom it is the coldest season of the year, occurring after fall and before spring. Despite this, an Australian going to an Eskimo culture for a period of time will eventually share (some aspects of) their conceptualization of snow. This is what we mean by dynamics for concepts (shown in Fig. 2 by a shaded area). 3 Semantic knowledge of shared conceptualization and ontologies When storing a shared concept such as WINTER in their semantic knowledge (system) human agents do it by applying classes and relations as, for instance, “is a season”, “is after fall”, etc., which in turn entail further concepts (e.g., SEASON, FALL, SPRING, TEMPERATURE). When we formalize this so that it can be explicitly shared by other agents, humans or machines, we say we construct an ontology, i.e. a formal specification of a shared conceptualization (e.g., ). This notion of shared conceptualization has become a pillar of ontologies; for instance,  offers a variation of our Figure 2 above.2 However, whereas these authors see it as constraints imposed on conceptualizations— which it indeed also partly is—we see it as a dynamics corresponding to “culture”, a notion that we freely interchange with Zeit- or Volksgeist taken ahistorically as technical terms intending to capture the “spirit” or “mood” (Geist, in German) of both a specific time (Zeit) and localized community (our loose rendering of Volk) as they emerge in shared conceptualizations. Because culture at large is the main molder of our semantic knowledge, it is by investigating the corpora produced by cultural agents at different times in different regions that we can construct ontologies that truly reflect localized conceptualizations. The Semantic Web, born in the early 2000s with other aims in view, is expected to provide us with the means to achieve these ontologies in which the meaning of shared conceptualization goes beyond an ontological commitment (see, e.g., ) to become an (implicitly, or unconsciously) consensual worldview. As we see it, this “capturing of the ineffable” entails the use of fuzzy formalisms, and in particular of fuzzy description logics (e.g., [4, 9])