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Old 06-25-2013, 10:13 PM   #71
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You could take it a step further and it could look at your inventory and give you say 3 different ways to make an APA with what you have.
'Zactly!
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:46 PM   #72
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You could take it a step further and it could look at your inventory and give you say 3 different ways to make an APA with what you have.
I already addressed this in my post. This is certainly an example of what a computer can do, but it does not demonstrate usefulness. I can already easily accomplish that exercise using common sense. Teaching my computer to do it for me might be "neat-o" in an academic sense, but I fail to see real utility.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for computers for problem solving. My degree is in computer science. I use computers to solve all kinds of problems/increase efficiency at work and at home. In this instance, though, I fail to see the problem that needs solving. By my perception, this thread is a circular argument that goes something like this:

"What's the problem?"
"We don't have an ontology."
"Why do we need an ontology?"
"Because we don't have one."
"What's an ontology used for?"
"Solving problems."
"So what's the problem?"
"We don't have an ontology."

By the way, the reason I keep following the thread and/or questioning the ideas is that on some level, I think there could be an interesting concept here. I'm just not quite sure what it is yet.
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:00 PM   #73
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Hybrids and chimera. Gray areas everywhere in the classification process.
At a sub-species level, absolutely...which is why sub-species taxonomies are usually a complete train wreck. The remarkable thing about inter-species hybrids is how rare they actually are and, when it happens, the offspring is generally sterile. To a significant degree, nature imposes its own order; we don't need to.

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If there isn't a language of sensory perception, then one will need to be created. Given a finite set of terms that describe something, the classification can begin. Perhaps spicy is one of the terms... I don't know.
Right, that's what I'm saying though: there is a lot of research to suggest that a formal ontology of perception isn't even possible because perceptual phenomena don't have an objective reality in the way that, say, species do. I can't recommend Stan Hieronymus's new book enough, as makes this case far more articulately than I'll ever be able to.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the more straight-forward ones is just physiology. Say there are 1000 olfactory sensors in the human species. The thing is, any given person will have only half of them. You and I could smell the same thing and have physiological responses with literally zero overlap. That would be relatively unlikely, of course, but it's essentially guaranteed that our experiences will overlap only partially.

Throw on top of this the fact that a great deal of smell processing is routed through memory, and the idea that we might produce an formal account of olfactory perception gets interesting (and maybe not in a good way). The goal here is to produce an objective account of an experience, but experience is the thing you need to take away to have objectivity. If you take the experience of smell away from smell, is there anything left?
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:14 AM   #74
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Right, that's what I'm saying though: there is a lot of research to suggest that a formal ontology of perception isn't even possible because perceptual phenomena don't have an objective reality in the way that, say, species do. I can't recommend Stan Hieronymus's new book enough, as makes this case far more articulately than I'll ever be able to.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the more straight-forward ones is just physiology. Say there are 1000 olfactory sensors in the human species. The thing is, any given person will have only half of them. You and I could smell the same thing and have physiological responses with literally zero overlap. That would be relatively unlikely, of course, but it's essentially guaranteed that our experiences will overlap only partially.

Throw on top of this the fact that a great deal of smell processing is routed through memory, and the idea that we might produce an formal account of olfactory perception gets interesting (and maybe not in a good way). The goal here is to produce an objective account of an experience, but experience is the thing you need to take away to have objectivity. If you take the experience of smell away from smell, is there anything left?
I'll check out the hops book. I wasn't a big fan of Brew like a Monk - very messy but entertaining.

I disagree that smell can't be objectively judged by different people. While we might make different associations with that smell based on something deep in our brain, we both smell the same thing. Music is the same way: you and I can listen to the same song, but we might be affected very differently. We still would agree that we heard the same song.

If we put 100 people in a room, blindfolded them, then fed them bananas, how many of them do you think wouldn't recognize that flavor?
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:31 AM   #75
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:35 AM   #76
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I'll check out the hops book. I wasn't a big fan of Brew like a Monk - very messy but entertaining.

I disagree that smell can't be objectively judged by different people. While we might make different associations with that smell based on something deep in our brain, we both smell the same thing. Music is the same way: you and I can listen to the same song, but we might be affected very differently. We still would agree that we heard the same song.
The argument here (and I'm certainly not an expert on the science behind it) is that it's not the same as music because it's not just about association. Unlike with sound, the electrochemical analog to a smelled stimulus is substantially different for different people.

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If we put 100 people in a room, blindfolded them, then fed them bananas, how many of them do you think wouldn't recognize that flavor?
That's the wrong experiment, though, because presumably all of these people have had a banana before. Nobody is disputing that people remember past experiences and can compare them to present ones.

An ontology of perception, on the other hand, would allow you to describe -- perfectly and unambiguously -- what a banana smells and tastes like to somebody who has never had one before. That is a much taller order.
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:38 AM   #77
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"What's the problem?"
"We don't have an ontology."
"Why do we need an ontology?"
"Because we don't have one."
"What's an ontology used for?"
"Solving problems."
"So what's the problem?"
"We don't have an ontology."

By the way, the reason I keep following the thread and/or questioning the ideas is that on some level, I think there could be an interesting concept here. I'm just not quite sure what it is yet.
Yeah, I just don't quite understand what the point of doing it would be. I'm intrigued, but not certain of the usefulness of it.
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:42 AM   #78
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That's the wrong experiment, though, because presumably all of these people have had a banana before. Nobody is disputing that people remember past experiences and can compare them to present ones.

An ontology of perception, on the other hand, would allow you to describe -- perfectly and unambiguously -- what a banana smells and tastes like to somebody who has never had one before. That is a much taller order.
Yea, that's a really good point. I'll have to think on it. Imagine describing the color red to a blind person.
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Old 06-26-2013, 02:51 AM   #79
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An ontology of perception, on the other hand, would allow you to describe -- perfectly and unambiguously -- what a banana smells and tastes like to somebody who has never had one before. That is a much taller order.
OK, I thought on it.

We don't do that though - we don't expect to describe the flavor or aroma of beer in new terms that were not experienced previously. In fact, we do just the opposite: we use terms that people are familiar with to describe flavors. I.e., we might describe a flavor of a hop as tropical fruit, or mango.

Maybe that doesn't work for whatever-the-hell an ontology is. But for my own classification of (in this example) El Dorado hops, used as a late addition, it would work fine. Even if I never had tasted a beer with El Dorado hops, I'd understand the description when given terms like "mango". (well, maybe, I admit I don't eat much mango).
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Old 06-26-2013, 03:50 AM   #80
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OK, I thought on it.

We don't do that though - we don't expect to describe the flavor or aroma of beer in new terms that were not experienced previously. In fact, we do just the opposite: we use terms that people are familiar with to describe flavors. I.e., we might describe a flavor of a hop as tropical fruit, or mango.

Maybe that doesn't work for whatever-the-hell an ontology is. But for my own classification of (in this example) El Dorado hops, used as a late addition, it would work fine. Even if I never had tasted a beer with El Dorado hops, I'd understand the description when given terms like "mango". (well, maybe, I admit I don't eat much mango).
Indeed, and that's why things like the BJCP style guide and hops catalogs are useful. Even if people have different physiological responses to the same stimulus, there are broad trends between people (it's not a coincidence that just about everyone likes mangoes) and between substances (cascade is citrusy because it shares some chemical properties with citrus fruit).

But those comparisons are imperfect. A particular hop might remind you of mangoes because there is a high level of some olfactory compound in both, but if I'm not very sensitive to that particular compound I might not find them similar at all. It's like the old quinine experiments they used to do in high school chemistry classes: some people can detect incredibly small concentrations of quinine and find it very bitter, but other people can barely perceive it at all even at high doses.

Does this matter? Precisely to the extent that an ontology is different than a description. Descriptions are tremendously useful, and I certainly don't want to imply that it's impossible to talk meaningfully about how beers are similar or different to each other. Quite the contrary. But, it's inherently imperfect because it attempts to put a subjective experience into objective language. If you were sharing your mango IPA with a friend and he said that he didn't get mango so much as passion fruit, it's not as though he'd be wrong necessarily. You might just be perceiving slightly different things.

But ontologies don't really allow for that. The heart and soul of a formal representation is that it needs to be objective, categorical, and unambiguous. Good approximations don't cut it here, though they're perfectly fine for a good description. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. I think the fact that a beer cannot be perfectly reduced to an information structure is one of the most wonderful things about the world.
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