(Sculpting semantics with Stopwords and Semantic Primes)
Let’s do a thought experiment. Think of something outlandish that you have never experienced. Describe it to yourself, your wife, your kids (or in my case, my cat). I am 100% sure that you will be able to do so in words or concepts that you are familiar with. Now, think of any novel, movie, or class that you’ve never read, seen, or taken. You were never trained (a la “machine learning”) to understand these works. Yet, we are able to comprehend them. How is this possible?
To answer the above question, we must go back to what happens in early childhood. While it is true that our brains have an innate ability to learn, we also teach members of our species (intelligence teaching intelligence, billions of us). The key to the success of this process is the “primary caregiver”, the mother and other members of the immediate family, and later, social proxies. We, humans, have all been subjected (and continue to be subjected) to an intense continued process of supervised learning and reinforcement learning by other members of our species.
This process has an innate roadmap. You first learn words that are related to your direct internal and external experiences. These are experiences with people and objects, thoughts important to you as a child, “mama”, “papa”, “booboo”, “daddy”, etc.
Unlike our electronic counterparts, nobody is going to upload to you Newton’s “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” or Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead’s “Principia Mathematica” or Marcel Proust’s “Search for Lost Time” and ask you to do a vector representation, word embedding, similarity search or anything of the sort. Further, you will be given 15–20 years of supervised (and reinforced) training before you run the chance of being asked to say something intelligent about such texts. Nature has a head start of a couple of billion years, yet, this is the best that Nature came up with; intelligent entities raising other intelligent entities and creating social networks, culture, and ideologies to do such training.