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Imaginary Friends 3: ‘Capital Punishment?’
By Nigel Morris-Cotterill  |  Sep 21, 2022
Imaginary Friends 3: ‘Capital Punishment?’
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‘Artificial Intelligence’ and ‘Machine Learning’ depend on, among other things, the language used by humans. Four imaginary friends discuss the many uncertainties that creates.


A: It’s like I’m, like, likin’ it back here in our comfy lodge. Let’s start by thinking about clarity in language.

B: Are we speaking about written or spoken language? I think we should stick with one because there are so many differences between the written and the spoken that to talk about both creates unnecessary complexity.

C: Maybe we should look at that first, i.e., how the differences between written and spoken cause that complexity.

D: Yes, because that is central to whether software can be produced to accurately interpret the information that is presented to it.

A: I have a particular fascination with emphasis and intonation. As someone who communicates both on the page and orally, I am always looking for ways to make what appears on the page carry my voice.

Can you hear what I wrote?

B: That’s at odds with legal drafting, or at least legal drafting as it used to be. If you look at English legal documents from before the 1970s, aside from the annoying ‘heretofore’ and other similar expressions, one of the most noticeable factors is the lack of commas, semicolons, colons or anything else that might be used to guide how the reader ‘hears’ a document.

A: Yes, I think that’s where I first became fascinated with trying

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