We present a new method for characterizing the interpretive possibilities generated by elliptical constructions in natural language. Unlike previous analyses, which postulate ambiguity of interpretation or derivation in the full clause source of the ellipsis, our analysis requires no such hidden ambiguity. Further, the analysis follows relatively directly from an abstract statement of the ellipsis interpretation problem. It predicts correctly a wide range of interactions between ellipsis and other semantic phenomena such as quantifier scope and bound anaphora. Finally, although the (...) analysis itself is stated nonprocedurally, it admits of a direct computational method for generating interpretations. (shrink)
Stuart M. Shieber’s name is well known to computational linguists for his research and to computer scientists more generally for his debate on the Loebner Turing Test competition, which appeared a decade earlier in Communications of the ACM. 1 With this collection, I expect it to become equally well known to philosophers.
In 1950, Alan Turing proposed his eponymous test based on indistinguishability of verbal behavior as a replacement for the question "Can machines think?" Since then, two mutually contradictory but well-founded attitudes towards the Turing Test have arisen in the philosophical literature. On the one hand is the attitude that has become philosophical conventional wisdom, viz., that the Turing Test is hopelessly flawed as a sufficient condition for intelligence, while on the other hand is the overwhelming sense that were a machine (...) to pass a real live full-fledged Turing Test, it would be a sign of nothing but our orneriness to deny it the attribution of intelligence. The arguments against the sufficiency of the Turing Test for determining intelligence rely on showing that some extra conditions are logically necessary for intelligence beyond the behavioral properties exhibited by an agent under a Turing Test. Therefore, it cannot follow logically from passing a Turing Test that the agent is intelligent. I argue that these extra conditions can be revealed by the Turing Test, so long as we allow a very slight weakening of the criterion from one of logical proof to one of statistical proof under weak realizability assumptions. The argument depends on the notion of interactive proof developed in theoretical computer science, along with some simple physical facts that constrain the information capacity of agents. Crucially, the weakening is so slight as to make no conceivable difference from a practical standpoint. Thus, the Gordian knot between the two opposing views of the sufficiency of the Turing Test can be cut. (shrink)
Anti-behaviorist arguments against the validity of the Turing Test as a sufficient condition for attributing intelligence are based on a memorizing machine, which has recorded within it responses to every possible Turing Test interaction of up to a fixed length. The mere possibility of such a machine is claimed to be enough to invalidate the Turing Test. I consider the nomological possibility of memorizing machines, and how long a Turing Test they can pass. I replicate my previous analysis of this (...) critical Turing Test length based on the age of the universe, show how considerations of communication time shorten that estimate and allow eliminating the sole remaining contingent assumption, and argue that the bound is so short that it is incompatible with the very notion of the Turing Test. I conclude that the memorizing machine objection to the Turing Test as a sufficient condition for attributing intelligence is invalid. (shrink)
Systematic semantic ambiguities result from the interaction of the two operations that are involved in resolving ellipsis in the presence of scoping elements such as quantifiers and intensional operators: scope determination for the scoping elements and resolution of the elided relation. A variety of problematic examples previously noted - by Sag, Hirschbüihler, Gawron and Peters, Harper, and others - all have to do with such interactions. In previous work, we showed how ellipsis resolution can be stated and solved in equational (...) terms. Furthermore, this equational analysis of ellipsis provides a uniform framework in which interactions between ellipsis resolution and scope determination can be captured. As a consequence, an account of the problematic examples follows directly from the equational method. The goal of this paper is merely to point out this pleasant aspect of the equational analysis, through its application to these cases. No new analytical methods or associated formalism are presented, with the exception of a straightforward extension of the equational method to intensional logic. (shrink)