Jun 14, 2021 1:44 PM
in principle I think you should be able to guess the entire premise from the title
+ Show First Post
Total: 677
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

" - thanks."

Permalink

"A computer is a device that uses small controlled amounts of electricity to manipulate the state of very very small components that represent information. Some of that information is instructions the device can follow in manipulating its information. For example," he says, pulling up a random article about apricot cultivars, "I can highlight all the instances of this letter," he highlights all the A's, "or all the instances of this word," the apricots, "and so on. In a very large document, this is useful because, for example, I could skip to every mention of 'Aroden' - and, for that matter, sophisticated computer software can also use a corpus of written material to do halfway decent translation, so with a little work I could also cover more ground by searching material not written in Taldane. Which, by the way, only Chelish people call 'Avistani'."

Permalink

"Taldor is a husk of an empire and doesn't deserve the language the whole continent speaks being named after them." She frowns, concentrating. "I don't understand what about representing information in small components lets you find all the instances of the word "Aroden" any faster."

Permalink

"...the modern versions are very complicated, will you settle for a description of a primitive edition of search?"

Permalink

"The thing I am trying to understand is what else being allowed to put information on that device and reorder it in arbitrary ways lets you do because it seems like it might be a lot of things. I won't even know if you're lying but - true technical explanations hold together better than fake ones."

Permalink

"Information stored on the computer can also do pictures, sounds, moving pictures accompanied by sounds, I can demonstrate all those but they're less important because you don't have photography or sound recording that isn't too magic to conjure anyway. I already have a lot on here. What not adding new stuff is preventing me from doing is mostly the translation thing and research on Golarion enabled by both that and by search. Paper is slower and less freely organizable and limited to Taldane and cluttery."

Permalink


"Can you show me some of what you have on there?"

Permalink

"Sure." He puts Atriama on a shuttle screen and the overture pipes through the shuttle speakers.

Permalink

She watches it and thinks. 

 

"I can give you Comprehend Languages if you want to read in other languages."

Permalink

"Unless you can cast it on my computer that's not much help."

Permalink

"If I can figure out a way to do it at all it should let you read things on your computer even if you don't understand the language they're written in. And the computer - doesn't understand either way, right - or is it intelligent -"

Permalink

"It's not. We can't make anything smarter than a snail for some reason. I will not be able to navigate among files in a language that the computer doesn't - have, in some sense - here, I'll add the Taldane alphabet and you can see how that works." He pulls up an alphabet-adding app and starts mentally drawing Taldane characters in it. "Now these are all being assigned codepoints so that they have unique renderings in the format the computer uses - it has to store everything in the same way at the very bottom of its structure even though I know and use dozens of languages - and now I can, say, name this picture of you," he snaps one, "your name in Taldane, and if I go to my search, here, I can type your name," he does, "and then your picture comes up, see? But if you just cast a spell on me that means I can read any language, this is impossible - I can't type in them, and the computer wouldn't understand if I did."

Permalink

 

She spends a while thinking about it. "I think I am not smart enough to understand all of the implications of computers yet. That makes sense but I wouldn't have thought of it and I am trying to think of all the other things in that category and there's just - lots of them. Maybe once I understand it more. I'm not trying to hide anything about the world from you and if there are specific things you'd want to look at for proof you can, I just shouldn't be building stuff I don't understand at all."

Permalink

"If I walk you through how computer translation works will you let me make specifically and only the things I explain to you that I need to do that?"

Permalink

"...probably."

Permalink

He pulls up the machine translation code for Chinese so it'll be visually obvious what's in one language and what's in the other even to Carissa. "I don't have a seed corpus here, because those are actually pretty big even in computer format and wouldn't fit in the shuttle on paper even if I wrote so small you needed a magnifying glass. But this program was derived from a very large amount of text in Chinese, the one where the characters look like this -" Some light up. "And then the computer figured out what characters often go together, in what orders, at what frequency, and also was fed a dictionary but you can do it without that if you have to, and it was like, 'here are all the most obvious word to word or phrase to phrase correspondences between this sentence in Chinese and a possible sentence in English, here is what would make sense with both how English works and what's present in the Chinese sentence, here is a guess at an English translation', and then someone who actually spoke Chinese helped weed out the weird mistakes it made at first, but for that your Comprehend Languages spell might actually work fine and it's optional for the kind of skimming I plan to do anyway.

"It does make very silly mistakes though, like this sentence," he flips into a text editor and plops some Chinese in there, "means 'tea time, Nyonya dumpling, do you like it' but, because of the word Nyonya containing a character that can mean 'mother', and a movie reference in English being frequently snowcloned into various sentences of the form 'X, motherfucker, do you Y it' such that it appeared disproportionately, the program guessed it meant 'teatime, motherfucker, do you like it' and a real person was needed to correct it. But it's still a very, very powerful first pass at natural language translation.

"As a toy example of what the program does - or, some of it, there's also lots of epicycles on top to account for things linguists figure out about this or that, but at the most basic - here are some real Chinese sentences, and here after those are some that might or might not be legitimate grammatical Chinese, can you guess based on just the examples which one is real?"

And he writes:

我爱猫
猫爱鱼
我不爱鱼
猫不爱我

不猫我爱 , 我不不不 , 爱我猫鱼 , 鱼不爱我

Permalink

"Oh, I'm no good at languages," she says almost before looking at it. 

Permalink

"There are literally five different characters, would you like me to replace them with squares of different colors so it just looks like a puzzle?"

Permalink

"I'm fine at puzzles, sure."

Permalink

He replaces the characters with five different colors.

Permalink

Red, green, blue.

Blue, green, purple.

Red, yellow, green, purple.

Blue, yellow, green, red.

 

She doesn't get it instantly.

 

He's going to think she's very stupid, and then she's going to die, and -

 

Okay, calm down. She is, objectively, too stupid to do this perfectly. She is not so stupid she's already dead. She's going to have to do her best with the amount of intelligence that she has, knowing it isn't enough, and hoping that she can patch the difference with arbitrary material resources. 

It's not really a puzzle, even though he's colored it. You have to add a bunch of assumptions to get anywhere, and - and since it's a language they should be language sorts of assumptions, like that in most sentences the nouns and the verbs and the connecting words only have a certain number of orders they can be placed in, instead of if it were a math puzzle where the key thing might be what each line added up to, or if they were spell symbols where the important thing would be the resonance -

All four 'sentences' have green in them. It'd be very stupid to assert that a rule of Chinese is that sentences have green in them, but - but it might be a common word, 'a' or 'the' - in which case its placement in the proposed sentence 1 and 3 looks suspicious, it's not in the middle of the word like in all the examples -

Blue and red are beginning-words, purple and blue and red are all acceptable ending words. Yellow precedes green.

 

Blue, yellow, green, red is a valid string. Blue, yellow, green, purple is a proposed string. It looks like...clearly the best of the proposed strings, when she's thinking about it like this? But is it at all sane to be thinking about it like this, is she just following one of a hundred possible threads of thought which point different directions -

 

- but she doesn't think she is. Red green blue. Red greens blue; some relationship exists between red and blue. Blue greens purple. Red does not green purple. Blue does not green red. Now she's picked meanings for half the words and maybe that's very stupid. 

"Blue yellow green purple has the most similarity in character-order in the sentence," she says, and only flinches a little bit.

 

Permalink

"Yes!" he says, wagging his tail, "congratulations, this isn't actually a standard exercise, I made it up and was worried it was too hard -" The squares are replaced with little pictures of cats and fish and a smiley face and a heart and an X. "So, the computer does a lot of that, to determine the purely structural features of a language and what sorts of things go where. It has some guesses suggested by the programmers about how common certain concepts are, about some typical features of adjectives and so on, and also the fancy version can try to parse illustrations to compensate for missing dictionary vocabulary -" He brings up the apricot article again; it does have some pictures. "Allowing it to guess that words appearing more frequently in this article are particularly likely to be 'apricot' and words that are related to apricot in its sample of other languages. So when it's presented with a new sentence in a language it has processed, it can check it against all its other knowledge, and then find a surprisal-minimizing solution for the translation. It will work especially well if you or I help it with Taldane and there are any translations of the same text into multiple Golarion languages already available for it to use."

Permalink

"Lots of holy books get translated into every language. What is it - doing, when it's guessing, if it has a snail's intelligence, snails aren't very good at guessing patterns..."

Permalink

"It doesn't have a snail's intelligence at all. It's executing a program, people and animals don't have those. Here is a simple program -"

>print "Hello, world!"
>increment #count
>print " [[count]]"
>loop to start until #count = 6
Hello, world! 1
Hello, world! 2
Hello, world! 3
Hello, world! 4
Hello, world! 5
Hello, world! 6

"Obviously this is not very useful by itself, it's the kind of thing you learn when you're picking up a new encoding standard," he avoids the phrase 'programming language' advisedly, "but it should illustrate the concept if you can comprehend-languages it?"

Permalink

"I - how do you give instructions to something that isn't intelligent?"

Total: 677
Posts Per Page: