Wittgenstein (Philosophy of Semantics)   no comments

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Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations

Augustine describes the process of learning language and human behaviour as a child; by seeing the words and motions used in the proper place and at the proper time he learned to use them properly himself. Speech software can do something a bit like this? Or whatever. Basically soft AI can learn to manipulate speech, though it has no conscious desires outside of what has been programmed. In mimicking physical human behaviour though we might go into the uncanny valley.
“Every word has a meaning.” p2

Wittgenstein draws up an analogy for the use of language as mental object retrieval in which a shopkeeper is given the instruction to retrieve five red apples. The ‘apples’ are matched to a catalogue, the colour ‘red’ is compared to a colour sample and the cardinal numbers to ‘five’ are listed. For each number, the shopkeeper retrieves one apple of the chosen colour. Following this protocol, the shopkeeper fulfills the instructions and may return to a position of readiness. p3
This is simplification in this example helps to draw aside some of the murkiness which “surrounds the working of language” (p4), and highlights the fact that in the earlier stages of language learning, that is, learning the functions of words, it is not explanation that is imparted, but training.

“In the practice of the use of language on party calls out the words, the other acts on [responds to] them.” -p5

“Naming something is like attaching a label to a thing.” -p7

“What are the simple constituent parts of which reality is composed?” Our conception of things (chairs, trees) is made up of parts, but what is the simplest (ie not composite) form of these parts? The elements? The atoms? We infer lots of stuff from looking at a wooden chair. The wood, and all that this implies (trees, branches, forests, saws, varnish, factories); the paint; how comfortable it may be. This complex web of background knowledge is completely natural in humans but really hard for computers.

“A name signifies only what is an element of reality.” -p29

And as an aside, from the Donna Harraway: “Microelectronics mediates the translations of … mind into artificial intelligence and decision procedures.” -p304

Written by Elzabi Rimington on November 5th, 2012

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