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Things that oniugnip has said in the last three days that have made me happy - Lindsey Kuper [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Lindsey Kuper

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Things that oniugnip has said in the last three days that have made me happy [Dec. 28th, 2007|12:29 am]
Lindsey Kuper
  • "You're gonna destroy grad school."
  • "Let's get coffee."
  • "Let's go running."
  • "Let's go to Spain."
  • "Let's go to Berkeley and give John Searle a hard time."
  • "It's very important which Waffle House we go to."
  • "I want natural language processing to be this beautiful thing, and it ends up being just this glued-together collection of hacks, and the exercises in this book are things like 'Write a regex to match ways of writing different amounts of money', and I'm just, like, 'No.'"
  • "You're such a good person!"
  • "You are the soapiest."
  • "You're beautiful."
  • "Please do this."
  • "Yes."
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: stereotype441
2007-12-28 10:52 pm (UTC)

Natural language processing

I totally agree. I once got my hands on the source code for an early implementation of Zork, and had a look at the language processing code. I was expecting to find some sort of amazing parsing routine. Instead I found a lot of "if the first word is 'get', and the second word is 'the', and the third word is in this table, then call this routine." It was very disappointing.
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[User Picture]From: pmb
2007-12-29 12:16 am (UTC)

Re: Natural language processing

The problem is that it seems a bogus assumption to think of "Natural language" as anything other than kludge upon kludge upon hack upon hack. People used to think of AI and NLP as these very formal fields - yielding such things as PROLOG and CYC and the Chomsky hierarchy. But it's looking more and more like intelligence and language are simply hack upon hack upon hack until we can discern neither forest nor trees and the whole system is now so opaque in function that we can only call it "intelligent" because we don't understand how it works.

Have you ever seen a program that was the result of source code evolution? They are some ugly ugly things, full of tricks and traps and darkness and lurking bugs and corner cases. Why do we imagine that our evolved brains are somehow more elegant, despite their tremendous increase in size, connectivity, and complexity?
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[User Picture]From: stereotype441
2007-12-29 12:28 am (UTC)

Re: Natural language processing

Why do we imagine that our evolved brains are somehow more elegant, despite their tremendous increase in size, connectivity, and complexity?

Yeah. I don't really imagine the brain is elegant anymore. There seems to be more and more evidence every day that it's actually just a collection of useful hacks, as you say. And considering that the rest of our bodies seem to function that way, it's not surprising.

But that doesn't stop be from being disappointed about it :)
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[User Picture]From: pmb
2007-12-29 02:24 am (UTC)

Re: Natural language processing

Unrelated - I am totally into the two icons you are using. Particularly the juggling disaster.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-12-31 07:30 pm (UTC)

Re: Natural language processing

I like the "collection of useful hacks" analogy in describing the brain's process of interpretation. Anyone who thinks that evolution is an efficient process that produces the "best" answer to a problem needs to go back to school and learn about local fitness maxima, or "adaptive peaks". Little things that result due to the conflict between constraints and the sometimes inefficiency of intermediate forms: it is hard to change the program to develop wings into a really effective armadillo-claw building program. Both are advantageous, but since you've already got a program that digs really well, why evolve towards one that lets you fly, even if over the long term flying might provide you a greater fitness advantage? Especially when the intermediate stages between flying and digging are terrible at both options...

Language is a cultural adaptation that runs into a lot of the same problems. Worse (not really "worse", just "more complicated"): it absorbs bits and pieces horizontally from other species, much like bacteria sucking up transgenic plasmids! Our little brains can still make sense of this jumble because we have some interesting generalized pattern-detecting domains, and a system that will ignore conflict in favor of resolving external stimuli... but I imagine that it is rough to try and teach a computer how to absorb the absolute nonsense input and noise that "natural language" is... and worse still - how to absorb and interpret the rapidly changing "languages" spoken by each mixed-cohort of adolescents...


- Derksen
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2007-12-30 05:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Natural language processing

Have you ever seen a program that was the result of source code evolution?

Yeah. I've been reading about genetic programming, and...yeah.
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[User Picture]From: lovemotionstory
2007-12-30 12:52 am (UTC)
aw.
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[User Picture]From: sonetka
2007-12-30 06:18 am (UTC)
:). (BTW, if you decide to go with the Spain option, can I hitch a ride in your suitcase? Country is GORGEOUS).
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2008-01-04 02:19 am (UTC)
Let's all go to Spain together.
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[User Picture]From: jes5199
2007-12-30 07:22 am (UTC)
which waffle house did you go to?
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2007-12-30 05:33 pm (UTC)
We went to one Outside The Perimeter, close to poodleface's house, at two in the morning, right after we recorded a very pop-punk version of TNTS, which you'll be hearing on the podcast forthwith.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2008-02-06 07:31 am (UTC)
I have been corrected. We did not go to a Waffle House Outside The Perimeter. It was inside. It was just that, to a Portlander, it felt so far Outside that I was sure it had to be Outside of something.
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