RE: Re[2]: project COSA

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Sat Aug 10 2002 - 21:11:34 MDT

> Saturday, August 10, 2002, 11:08:33 AM, Ben Goertzel wrote:
> BG> I agree with that -- advanced AGI's will develop nonhuman ways of
> BG> programming. Our programming paradigms are based on the linear-syntax
> BG> nature of human language, whereas AGI's won't communicate using linear
> BG> syntax in the human-language sense.
> I actually wonder about that.

Here is an excerpt from the in-preparation Novamente book. It is the intro
to the chapter on Psynese, the mechanism we have devised (but not yet
implemented; many things come ahead of it in the queue) for inter-Novamente

"Obviously, different Novamente systems will need to communicate with one
another. But how?

"It doesn't take a very detailed analysis to arrive at the conclusion that
human-style language is not an ideal mechanism for inter-Novamente
communication. Human language is a complex mechanism, riddled with
problems. We humans sometimes struggle to communicate simple things to each
other clearly, and some of our deeper, more radical or more personal
thoughts remain forever unshared, not because of a lack of desire to
communicate them, but because of the difficulty of mapping mind-stuff into
series of written or spoken words. Music, art, mathematics and other human
endeavors seek to work around the limitations of written and spoken
language, giving voice to aspects of the human experience that map poorly
into word sequences. Poetry tries to bend language into the shape of
thought and feeling, but frequently at the cost of comprehensibility.
Scientific and legal language attempt to be precise like mathematics yet at
the same time descriptive of real world situations - and they do succeed to
an extent, but learning them takes many years beyond the years spent on
ordinary language learning, and even so they "falsify" the ideas they
represent to a certain extent. Anyone who has read a lot of scientific
papers knows the process of "working backwards to the actual idea" from the
formalized discourse encountered in a research article.

"Of course, we humans are accustomed to the limitations of written and
spoken language; our cultural institutions and our minds themselves are
largely shaped by these limitations. However, there is no reason that
inter-Novamente communication needs to be governed by these same
limitations. Novamente does need to learn human language, so that it can
communicate with human beings effectively, and absorb the vast amount of
knowledge available in human-written texts. But for communicating with
other Novamentes, a Novamente system can do far better than human language
or any close approximation thereof. And even after its mastery of human
language is substantial, it may be that, for communicating some of its more
complex thoughts to humans, Novamente winds up using its own language rather
than any human tongue.

"In this chapter we will describe a Novamente-only language known as Psynese
, which is radically different from any human language in some interesting
ways. "


"Psynese bears scant resemblance to any human language. However, it is of
course a language in the formal sense; and unlike a programming language, it
serves largely the same function as human language: the exchange of
statements, questions, orders and so forth between different intelligent


"One might wonder why a community of Novamentes would need a language at
all. After all, unlike humans, Novamente systems can simply exchange "brain
fragments" - subspaces of their Atomspaces [Atoms are what we call the basic
units of information in Novamente]. One Novamente can just send relevant
nodes and links to another Novamente (in binary form, an XML representation,
etc.), bypassing the linear syntax of language. This is in fact the basis
of Psynese: why transmit linear strings of characters when one can directly
transit Atoms? But the details are subtler than it might at first seem.

"One Novamente can't simply "transfer a thought" to another Novamente. The
problem is that the meaning of an atom consists largely of its relationships
with other atoms, and so to pass a node to another Novamente, it also has to
pass the atoms that it is related to, and so on, and so on. Atomspaces tend
to be densely interconnected, and so to transmit one thought accurately, a
Novamente system is going to end up having to transmit a copy of its entire
Atomspace! Even if privacy were not an issue, this form of communication
(each utterance coming packaged with a whole mind-copy) would present rather
severe processing load on the communicators involved.

"The idea of Psynese is to work around this interconnectedness problem by
defining a Psynese vocabulary: a collection of atoms, associated with a
community of Novamentes, approximating the most important atoms inside that
community. The combinatorial explosion of direct-Atomspace communication is
then halted by an appeal to standardized Psynese atoms. Pragmatically, a
PsyneseVocabulary is contained in a PsyneseVocabulary server, a special
Novamente that exists to mediate communications between other Novamentes,
and provide Novamentes with information."

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