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Robot Brains: Circuits and Systems for Conscious Machines by Pentti O. Haikonen

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9

Natural language in robot brains

9.1 MACHINE UNDERSTANDING OF LANGUAGE

Practical interactive robots should be able to understand language. They should be able to discuss their situation, understand commands and explain what they have done and why, and what they are going to do. They should be able to learn by verbal descriptions. Companion robots should also be able to do small talk. Human thinking is characterized by silent inner speech, which is also a kind of rehearsal for overt spoken speech. A robot that uses language in a natural way may also have or need to have this inner speech.

Traditional natural language processing theories have treated languages as self-sufficient systems with very little consideration about the interaction between real-world entities and the elements of the language. However, in cognitive systems and robotics this interaction would be the very purpose of language. A robot will not understand verbal commands if it cannot associate these with real-world situations. Therefore, the essential point of machine linguistics is the treatment of the grounding of meaning for the elements of the language, the words and syntax, as this would provide the required bridge between language and the world entities. Thus the development of machine understanding of language should begin with consideration of the mechanisms that associate meaning with percepts.

The cognitive processes give meaning to the percept signal vectors that in themselves represent only combinations ...

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