Archive | January, 2009

The naturalistic (language) fallacy revisited

5 Jan

The comments to this y.combinator item add to what I said here. In particular, commenter apinstein writes:

I used to do a lot of AppleScript programming. When I initially learned about the “natural” syntax I though “this is gonna be so easy!” But ultimately it works against you.

Computers are very precise beasts, and they need to know exactly what you want them to do. The looser the “syntax” gets, the more guesses the compiler has to make to come up with a set of precise instructions.

What I initially thought would be easy and liberating turned out to be a total PITA. AppleScript programming is horrible. Ultimately there is an underlying syntax, but it’s harder to remember because it’s less consistent (ie “natural”). I had to spend way too much time trying to understand what goofy “natural” grammar I had to use to get it to do what I wanted.

Even if you assume an “ideal AI,” I still don’t think that a natural language syntax is a good idea, since language itself has a lack of specificity that requires even an “ideal AI” to make guesses that could be logically wrong.