From the very beginning, language has been central to AI’s effort to imitate the human mind.
As I mentioned in the last installment, “mind” per se is a nebulous and slippery concept. Without some sort of structure, artificial intelligence has nothing to work with, nothing to bite into.
Here language comes to the rescue. Languages involve sounds, letters or other symbols, collections of words and phrases, grammatical rules and constructions. Plenty of structure, of the sort a digital computer can play with.
Thus, one might expect that human language would provide an ideal starting point for AI to take on the human mind in general. Logic and mathematical reasoning, which also have lots of structure, would provide a second flank. I’ll talk about that in a later article.
Artificial intelligence has made astonishing progress in dealing with human languages (also referred to as “natural languages,” in contrast to artificial languages such as those invented for programming computers.)