Monday, January 16, 2006


natural language :: semantics :: science fiction

I am delighted with the silliness issuing forth from
Schrodinger's Box, it
continues to amuse and I am always eager to see what the next post will
be. However, as I alluded to at the end of my previous post, there is
more potential here than satisfying the high-minded call of absurdity.

For example, imagine yourself at work, trapped in a project with a
bunch of tired people just wanting to go home. You've been tasked by
the boss with "thinking outside the box" and you're making no progress.
Everyone is grumpy, creativity is harder and harder to imagine. Simply
gather a bunch of text for the topic at hand, feed it into webXcreta,
and viola -- instant brainstorming material. Proceed to discuss the
sentences that webXcreta pops out, easily dig yourself out of the rut,
get off the hook with the boss, and run home to pursue the many other
distractions of a mundane existence.

This could also be used effectively to alleviate writer's block. You're
writing a historical romance in ancient Gaul, with a plot that
stretches over Teutonic tribes in Western Europe, through to Rome and
into Asia Minor? Well, gather some source material, feed it into
webXcreta, and bing-bango! Innumerable ideas and sources of inspiration
to get that ink flowing again.

So, yes -- there is some practicality involved. On a slightly more
radical note, I'm exploring as possible use of the weighting
"algorithm" I used in webXcreta for representation of minorities. The
square of the log could be a very effective means of ensuring that no
voice is completely suppressed, that no majority ever gains absolute
control. I'd like to hear what people with political science
backgrounds have to say about that sort of thing.

And then there's the potential role for this to be used in assessing
public opinion, popular trends, and predictive analysis. Now we're get
to the subject of this blog entry... psychohistory ;-) I'm talking
Isaac Asimov and science-fiction: the psychohistory of Hari Seldon in
the famous Foundation series. Or at least a part of it. webXcreta makes
use of the
Natural Language Processing Toolkit which is a great
tool, but we'd need something more to make this science-fiction a
reality. We'd need a "semantic processing toolkit". I image that the
corpora for such a toolkit would not be tagged parts of speech, etc.,
but rather semantic tags. Perhaps domain-specific tags for contextual
meaning. Then, instead of a grammatical average, you would take a
semantic average. Now *that* would be REALLY interesting...

Now playing:
Yes - And You And I (live version)

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