Meeting them halfway: Altering language conventions to facilitate human-robot interaction

  • Lize Alberts Department of Philosophy, Stellenbosch University
Keywords: natural language processing, artificial language, symbolic AI, computational linguistics, international auxiliary language


This article considers the remaining hindrances for natural language processing technologies in achieving open and natural (human-like) interaction between humans and computers. Although artificially intelligent (AI) systems have been making great strides in this field, particularly with the development of deep learning architectures that carry surface-level statistical methods to greater levels of sophistication, these systems are yet incapable of deep semantic analysis, reliable translation, and generating rich answers to open-ended questions. I consider how the process may be facilitated from our side, first, by altering some of our existing language conventions (which may occur naturally) if we are to proceed with statistical approaches, and secondly, by considering possibilities in using a formalised artificial language as an auxiliary medium, as it may avoid many of the inherent ambiguities and irregularities that make natural language difficult to process using rule-based methods. As current systems have been predominantly English-based, I argue that a formal auxiliary language would not only be a simpler and more reliable medium for computer processing, but may also offer a more neutral, easy-to-learn lingua franca for uniting people from different linguistic backgrounds with none necessarily having the upper hand.


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How to Cite
Alberts, L. (2019). Meeting them halfway: Altering language conventions to facilitate human-robot interaction. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus, 56, 97-122.