Scientific development of communicating ideas

Discussion in 'Science & Technology' started by velosepappe, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. velosepappe

    velosepappe Warlord

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    This is something that has left me wondering for a long time.

    Is there any scientific research and technological progress on how to communicate ideas. There are people like me who have a hard time to formulate ideas in a clear way so that other people might understand in a non ambiguous way the concepts I develop. Also is there any development on how to make complex ideas understandable to people that under normal are not capable to grasp these ideas.

    I'm interested in both linguistics as neuroscientific aspects. Maybe there are even more points of views that are relevant.
     
  2. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    That would depend on the discipline, no? If you're talking computer science, for example, there is a huge array of UML-like tools to help communicate ideas and concepts unambiguously
     
  3. velosepappe

    velosepappe Warlord

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    I was thinking more like ways to communicate ideas with people and animals with lesser mental capabilities. We have allready been able to teach chimpansees a few 100 of words. Things like UML also enable people to communicate things so this is also relevant indeed.
     
  4. GoodGame

    GoodGame Red, White, & Blue, baby!

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    You're post was totally understandable! :goodjob:

    I tried googling "Animal Cognition" which I think would be the literate term that science would use for such a field. Looking at wikipedia (the first choice for outsourcing links), I got: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_cognition I recommend starting there.

    I think most of the classical research about what interests you would be under the term "Animal Psychology" (e.g.Jane Goodall, Koko the sign-language gorilla). Related might be Cognitive Psychology.

    If you're into philosophy about it, you might pick up BF Skinner and Noam Chomsky, I think. Note that Chomsky is prolific and controversial, so you might want to preview what you buy from him.

    I'd say that Artificial Intelligence presents an interesting way of looking at the problem, but that totally ignores the biology of the situation. At some point, the cells and the organs play a role in capacity, just as your muscle composition and distribution plays a role in how good you are at basketball. For instance compare a mouse brain (very large percent of the brain mass devoted to sense of smell) to a human brain.

     
  5. velosepappe

    velosepappe Warlord

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    Thanks GoodGame. Very interesting wiki article. Its nice to know or at least suspect that one day we might be able to have a meaningfull conversation with a non-human animal (or should I say individual)

    Something I have also considered earlier is that compilers also do this kinds of things: translating ideas written in a programming language to machine code. I think this is also something that is somewhat relevant. One day it might be possible for a lay man to just state what a certain application should do, for example by voice recognition, and the compiler translates this directly to a working program.
     
  6. deanej

    deanej Deity

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    It's gonna be a while before we get that. gcc can't even optimize this:
    Code:
    int i;
    for(i = 0; i < str.length(); i++) {
        /* do something */
    }
    Spoiler :
    The reason it can't do it is because gcc can't know that the value of str.length() doesn't change during the execution of length() or if it changes during any iteration of the loop. Assuming no changes to the string during the for loop, the optimized form is this:
    Code:
    int i;
    int var = str.length();
    for(i = 0; i < var; i++) {
        /* do something */
    }


    To put things in perspective, I've once heard gcc referred to as the most complex program ever written.
     
  7. velosepappe

    velosepappe Warlord

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    While reading the mathematics topic I wondered how mathematicians are doing in making maths more understandable, more intuitive. Are they even trying to simplify? It must be, things like vector mathematics have become much more readable over the last century. While taking a course on symmetry groups I was baffled at how difficult it is to get insight into symmetry using the language they developed for it so far. As symmetry is a very abstract subject it seemed that you would only become good at it if you have a well developed intuition for abstract subjects, something I luckily had. My professor also told me that mathematicians were working hard on developing new ways to translate symmetry theory, so there is hope.

    EDIT:
    I dont know enough about the gcc compilers (or compilers in general) to see why this couldnt be changed. Does the gcc compiler assume that str.length() in
    Code:
    for(i = 0; i < str.length(); i++) {
        /* do something */
    }
    should be a constant maybe?
     
  8. GoodGame

    GoodGame Red, White, & Blue, baby!

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    I think that whatever makes something more intuitive will depend on the viewer, but improvements will probably be in the symbology and grammar. E.g. teaching algrebra in terms of a Roman alphabet might be less intuitive to someone from a culture with an entirely different alphabet. And not all languages use the same grammar structure, so again, using one based on the recipients culture/dialect would be an improvement to understanding, if only because then the basics are already understood.

    In terms of mice that might mean to teach numbers, basic algebra rules, and the basics of set theory in terms of abstraction based on a sense of smell. But would the mice possess the ability to abstract smell to concepts? I suspect they could be taught to abstract behaviors to rewards (i.e. food reward for following a specific scent) but could that be used to abstract say the "reflexive rule of algrebra"?
     
  9. deanej

    deanej Deity

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    If the string isn't modified in the loop, str.length() is essentially a constant. However, gcc can't tell if the string might get modified at all so it's conservative and assumes that str.length() changes on each loop iteration. It's actually the best way to do things - strange stuff can happen in fringe cases. For example, depending on you computer, 2147483647 + 1 may equal -2147473648 with signed integers (it's true on 32-bit Linux). Also, you can have a float equal to -0.
     
  10. Souron

    Souron The Dark Lord

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    It's quite possible to write a compiler that could do the static analysis necessary to optimize that. It's just not worthwhile.

    But optimization is quite a different problem from understanding natural language.

    I could see a future program that customizes a detailed task by having an involved conversation with a person. It would not be used by hard core programmers though, because it would be a slow way to program.
     
  11. Darkwind

    Darkwind Chieftain

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    This question reminds me of a sci-fic book, it describe a near future world, where electronic implants to brain is common practice. (I have only seen the summary thought, not the whole book.)

    The electronic device attached to your brain can detect the electric pulse/biological signals in your brain and translate it into a electronic signal that it can record/ transmit.

    Since everyone's brain might be different, the same biological pattern or electric pulse in my brain may have a different meaning to the same signal in your brain; hence for the device must "learn" your brain's language for a while before it can be of any use. (It is basically saying, when I speak the word "apple", my brain may have different active areas and electric pulse to when you say "apple"; hence there is a learning period before the device can "translate" your brain activity to language.)

    The purpose of this device is to facilitate communication among human to a new height, complex ideas like "I just saw an orange - red sunset (with 34.556% orange and 65.444% red) that is so beautiful that I feel so incredibly happy, relax and remember my dead grand ma" can be expressed in just one "word".

    It bring a whole new meaning to "poetry" and "art".

    Of course you can "send email", "online chat" and use other type of communication with it.

    I do believe this will happen in future, but we probably will not be able to see it in our lifetime..... (it would be so great!!!)
     

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