A human-inspired, linguistically sophisticated model of language understanding for intelligent agent systems.
One of the original goals of artificial intelligence research was to endow intelligent agents with human-level natural language capabilities. Recent AI research, however, has focused on applying statistical and machine learning approaches to big data rather than attempting to model what people do and how they do it. In this book, Marjorie McShane and Sergei Nirenburg return to the original goal of recreating human-level intelligence in a machine. They present a human-inspired, linguistically sophisticated model of language understanding for intelligent agent systems that emphasizes meaning—the deep, context-sensitive meaning that a person derives from spoken or written language.
With Linguistics for the Age of AI, McShane and Nirenburg offer a roadmap for creating language-endowed intelligent agents (LEIAs) that can understand,explain, and learn. They describe the language-understanding capabilities of LEIAs from the perspectives of cognitive modeling and system building, emphasizing “actionability”—which involves achieving interpretations that are sufficiently deep, precise, and confident to support reasoning about action. After detailing their microtheories for topics such as semantic analysis, basic coreference, and situational reasoning, McShane and Nirenburg turn to agent applications developed using those microtheories and evaluations of a LEIA's language understanding capabilities.
McShane and Nirenburg argue that the only way to achieve human-level language understanding by machines is to place linguistics front and center, using statistics and big data as contributing resources. They lay out a long-term research program that addresses linguistics and real-world reasoning together, within a comprehensive cognitive architecture.
The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.
Marjorie McShane is on the faculty of the Cognitive Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Sergei Nirenburg is on the faculty of the Cognitive Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“This book summarizes an exciting approach to knowledge-rich natural language understanding, in the context of language-using AI agents. Anyone interested in building cognitive systems that use language should read this book.”
Ken Forbus, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Computer Science and Professor of Education at Northwestern University
“At a moment in the history of AI when machine learning, often in ill thought-out forms, has taken over much of the field, it is important to have a corrective like this book, which reminds us of real issues and problems.”
Yorick Wilks, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, University of Sheffield, UK