PAL: An Experiment in Computative Linguistics
A Brief History
Aug 7, 2001.
PAL is an ongoing experiment in computative linguistic morphology,
and on a higher level, in (artificial) intelligence. PAL began
his life in mid-1998 as a relatively simple chatterbot for use on
Internet Relay Chat, but has over time evolved into a much more
serious and ambitious project. PAL is not an acronym.
PAL I used a simple question-answer database to match what was asked
of him to a previously learned response. Learning was done through
direct question-answer mapping by the (human) teacher. In later stages
of development, the program could learn by itself, by monitoring what he
determined were dialogues on IRC. In responding to a query, questions did
not have to be precisely matched, as PAL I utilized a matching method
which allowed for a great deal of error tolerance. Despite the
primitive nature of the system, the results were often surprising,
and always amusing.
PAL II, in development in 1999, was an attempt to create a community
of PAL-like agents, which could share language databases and cooperate
in other ways. This phase of the project was soon halted as it became
apparent that a more sophisticated PAL engine should be a priority.
PAL III was the first serious attempt to create a "brain" capable of
learning language by itself, with no hard-coded or pre-entered rules.
The idea was that simply by "listening" to language, on IRC for
instance, a program should be able to make conclusions about sentence
structure, words and how they relate, and to develop a "mind"
based on the inter-relation of everything it has "heard". In this way,
PAL could, after having spent some time in an IRC channel, develop the
ability to compose sentences in the language that he had been exposed
to, not by simply repeating what was previously said, but by adhering
to language rules that, ideally, would by this point be derived. For
this purpose, PAL3 used a graph structure, with symbols (words)
for nodes, and connections (edges) between them representing
relationships like "follows in a sentence". These
connections also varied in strength depending on the number of
activations. The key idea was that a strong path in this graph structure
should represent a grammatically correct sentence fragment. The result
was a frequently chatty program that rarely succeeded in
making much sense or carrying a conversation.
Work on PAL3 was stopped in late 2000.
<ff> pal: how do you feel? <pal> i feel like i got a new one is the same way as the millenium or something the chord thing i was getting like 10 minutes <ff> pal: you seem upset <pal> i'm so upset <ff> pal: why? <pal> when i get a free meal why not just a bunch <ff> pal: good point <pal> it's supposed to look at that point and all that <ff> pal: now you sound confused <pal> got it from the quest we went to reboot i'm confused <ff> pal: you certainly are <pal> you certainly are <ff> pal: no, you are <pal> no i don't want a job there
As has been stated, it quickly becomes clear during a conversation that PAL3 is not intelligent, but rather attempts, as is traditional for chatterbots, to trick the other participant into an ongoing exchange. However, due to the wealth of information that PAL3 bases its responses on, they can often provide interesting insight into the general character of the environment it learned from.
<ff> pal: give me a hug <pal> but it's a big hug <ff> pal: i can take it <pal> well i'm going to take a long time <ff> pal: i'll be patient <pal> the patient is dead <ff> pal: you made a joke <pal> i have to put that as a joke on him <ff> pal: a joke on whom? <pal> whom opened for tmbg at last year's concert <ff> pal: is whom a band? <pal> to whom <ff> pal: to anyone. objectively speaking. <pal> anyone know if i get to the other day i was thinking that the server will be the most part but it's not that that would suck a lot of money in the middle of the other day <ff> pal: you need therapy <pal> but i don't have to go to therapy or something like a brain <ff> pal: you have a brain, too <pal> but i need a larger brain my friend and he said that it was like <ff> pal: a larger brain would help, yes
PAL IV is the current stage in the development of the "brain". Work is currently being done to enable PAL to create conceptual links in addition to linguistic ones, to enable him to maintain a semantic layer on top of his syntactic (linguistic) one. The idea, then, is that "thoughts" will originate and crystalize on a conceptual layer, with the linguistic layer (which is a more sophisticated version of PAL III) being responsible for turning these thoughts into valid statements of the appropriate language. This conceptual layer is built by noting relationships between symbols (words) which, by the number and variety of linguistic links, can statistically be determined to likely be representative of concepts, ie. are nouns, adjectives, or the like. By early August of 2001, much of this infrastructure has been implemented.
Copyright © 2001, The Lagged Network. All Rights Reserved.