Thursday, December 22, 2011

do thoughts have a language of their own?

NewScientist | What is the relationship between language and thought? The quest to create artificial intelligence may have come up with some unexpected answers

THE idea of machines that think and act as intelligently as humans can generate strong emotions. This may explain why one of the most important accomplishments in the field of artificial intelligence has gone largely unnoticed: that some of the advances in AI can be used by ordinary people to improve their own natural intelligence and communication skills.

Chief among these advances is a form of logic called computational logic. This builds and improves on traditional logic, and can be used both for the original purpose of logic - to improve the way we think - and, crucially, to improve the way we communicate in natural languages, such as English. Arguably, it is the missing link that connects language and thought.

According to one school of philosophy, our thoughts have a language-like structure that is independent of natural language: this is what students of language call the language of thought (LOT) hypothesis. According to the LOT hypothesis, it is because human thoughts already have a linguistic structure that the emergence of common, natural languages was possible in the first place.

The LOT hypothesis contrasts with the mildly contrary view that human thinking is actually conducted in natural language, and thus we could not think intelligently without it. It also contradicts the ultra-contrary view that human thinking does not have a language-like structure at all, implying that our ability to communicate in natural language is nothing short of a miracle.

Research in AI lends little support to the first view, and some support to the second. But if we want to improve how we communicate in natural language, the AI version of the LOT hypothesis comes into its own, offering us a detailed analysis we can use as a guide.

Using this guide we can then try to express ourselves in a form of natural language that is closer to the LOT. This will make it easier for others to understand our communications because they will require less effort to translate them into thoughts of their own. But to fully exploit the guide, we need to understand the nature of the LOT and the relationship between it and natural language.

5 comments:

nanakwame said...

"Nothing short of a miracle" hmmm...http://www.livescience.com/17594-visions-angels-bible-lucid-dreams.html...
http://www.livescience.com/7606-key-hallucinations.html

umbrarchist said...

Are linguists just ego-tripping on language?  Reality IS.  Symbols applied to reality are arbitrary.  But since understanding of reality can be wrong the arbitrarily created symbols can be wrong.  Then people can get emotionally fixated on incorrect symbols.  And of course people can use the symbols to LIE.  Then we have people BELIEVING LIES.

Programming symbols into computers has forced some people to put more thought into the symbols because the machine still has to function in reality, and reality don't care.  Like economists ignoring Demand Side Depreciation does not affect its occurrence.  Reality don't care.

This goes back to Korzybski and Science and Sanity.  This is stuff from the 1930s that most people never heard of.

nanakwame said...

Yes they have proven that babies are born with  a structure for grammar, and learn meaning and words from parents and teachers. One reason we don't have the language to express what is being proven today by science, the old arbitrary meaning don't fit.

CNu said...

so much to work with here....,

Reality IS.  Symbols applied to reality are arbitrary.

Are they?

But since understanding of reality can be wrong the arbitrarily created symbols can be wrong.

What if it's your understanding of natural language that's wrong? What about ergodic/ergotic/goetic language?

Programming symbols into computers has forced some people to put more
thought into the symbols because the machine still has to function in
reality, and reality don't care.


Why the machinic/organismic dichotomy Umbra?

I've got something for you to put in your pipe and smoke http://web.archive.org/web/20021212064901/http://www.geocities.com/m_valuedlets/index.html

umbrarchist said...

In Egyptian and Chinese cats are called MAU and MAO.

But is English and Spanish they are called CAT and GATO.

There is a certain logic to the Egyptian and Chinese because of the sound the animal makes but other that that the names are arbitrary.

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