Language


Update: February 15, 1996

Objective: Communication

Current English

Communication protocols are convenient for machines to talk together although they suffer from a lot of disadvantages. Do you talk TCP/IP with your beloved one, with your friends or do you negotiate with your commercial partners in this language ? The response is NO ! What about versions of any computer language, V1.0, V1.1, V2.0, V2.2, V3, V95, V96, V96.1.2 ?

The force of a natural language versus a computer language is that it is understood even by non-literate people, by people of various origins and it doesn't change so much in the course of a lifetime. So my opinion is clear: computers should speak current English ( or any other natural language depending on the purpose of the software ). This is absolutely vital if they want to communicate.

Verbal versus Non-Verbal

On one side you have text and logic. On the other side you have images, sounds, feelings, gesture. They are linked respectively to the left and the right side of the brain. Both are important. Surely have you encountered those persons, very clever at their work, but acting poorly in their private life, or simply mismanaging their human relations. They lack the Emotional Intelligence. We shouldn't make that mistake while building electronic intelligence.

Format

More basically, what is already non-verbal but still very close to text is the format of a document. In which form is the message delivered ? Think about a paper document. What about spaces, page dimensions, type of characters, color of text or background. They are already giving an indication as to the type of document. Is it a letter, a subscription form, an invoice, an advertisement ? Is this document part of a book or a magazine ? Think about the place of a date, a title, a signature. Simply think about the icons of your operating system, those related to documents. What information do they give you without reading the text underneath ? Can this information be understood by an intelligent agent ? I think there is no doubt about that.

Parties

The User: a human being

The Intelligent Agent: The I-Agent is a combination of hardware and software. Like we are made of bones, muscles, sensory elements, speech capability, energy elements, all driven by a mind.

The Medium: The document: sheet of paper, book, video tape, sound track, CD, diskette, web page, TV picture. It could be also the physical world when we are face to face or it could be a virtual 3D world, some kind of virtual village.

The Content: The knowledge.

Elements: Words

Simulation

What is a word but simulation of reality. In fact language is the first of all virtual worlds. A word is a virtual element, a virtual object and ideas, thinking are virtual actions, simulated actions, anticipated actions.

Richness

A word can carry a lot of information in a very compact size. A spreadsheet, for example, is cute to see but difficult to communicate while a word summarizes everything.: a "booming" economy, or a "stagnating" economy.

Feedback

Before the action, we talk about planning. After the action, we talk about evaluation or feedback. Feedback is essential to any action: "Are we getting closer to the objective or not ?". In other words: "What I'm doing, is it good or bad ?". While "good" may be understood by any person even knowing nothing about computers or by any machine regardless of its operating system, programming language or database format.

In machine style language:

if fdbk = "good"

   then continue

else if fdbk = "bad"

   then analyze

Thinking

What characterizes a human being versus other life forms is its function called thinking. Let us stop for a minute our busy mind, let us consider with respect our most precious wealth, the basis of all civilization: thinking. Let us consider now that without words you cannot think, you cannot talk, you cannot listen to anybody.

Application Principles

The Document

Human cognitive process is so huge that we might be discouraged to even approach it. I believe that a good starting point, an object that an I-Agent could handle easily, is a document. In other words: a computer file filled up with words or, for you and me, a white page filled up with pieces of thinking, pieces of information.

Internet

Of course, we may imagine a type of science-fiction hardware robot talking with you, listening to the radio, reading your conventional newspaper, attending company meetings, making presentations,...

More realistically, more subtly, the I-Agent of the near future will be Internet based. It's already the case with search engines and other search robots. What are they doing ? They are analyzing documents, in fact HTML pages, which may be viewed as the basic medium for electronic intelligence.

Examples of text related intelligence

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