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Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology based conversational interfaces

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2015 23:34:52 -0400
Message-id: <55A5D4DC.7080907@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Rich and Tom,    (01)

1983 was one of the "boom times" in the boom-and-bust cycle of AI.
That's when AI researchers were getting LISP machines and high-end
workstations.  There was a lot of optimism about getting truly
intelligent systems.  The Cyc project was started in 1984 with a
10-year plan to solve all the problems.    (02)

> a free pdf about discourse and conversational analysis:
>https://abudira.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/discourse-analysis-by-gillian-brown-george-yule.pdf    (03)

> I think it's definitely worth a read, although, being published in
> 1983, most of its value probably lies in documenting the history of
> discourse analysis...    (04)

That book does a good job of surveying the complex issues about the
semantics of natural language and the many, many ways that language
is related to context, speakers, presuppositions, etc.    (05)

And they also show the huge number of reasons why we still do not
have computer systems today that can understand natural language.    (06)

For just one of the many reasons why formal systems for NLP have
failed, look at page 80 of that book (if you're using the Adobe reader,
it's p. 47):    (07)

> In this approach, each participant in a discourse has a presupposition
> pool and his pool is added to as the discourse proceeds.  Each
> participant also behaves as if there exists only one presupposition
> pool shared by all participants in the discourse.  Venneman emphasizes
> that this is true in 'a normal, honest discourse'.    (08)

The last line is a typical method for dismissing all the hard parts.    (09)

The authors of the book recognize and discuss the many complex issues
involved in that assumption.  Unfortunately, what Venneman calls
"a normal, honest discourse" rarely, if ever, exists -- I don't
believe that the terms 'normal' or 'honest' are appropriate.    (010)

Unfortunately, the boom years of the 1980s were followed by
a typical bust, when people realized that language understanding
is much harder than anybody in realized.  I often quote Alan Perlis:
"A year spent working in artificial intelligence is enough to make
one believe in God."    (011)

Those issues are the theme of a talk I presented last year
on "Why has AI failed?  And how can it succeed?"
http://www.jfsowa.com/talks/micai.pdf    (012)

John    (013)

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