Why symbol-grounding is both impossible and unnecessary, and why theory-tethering is more powerful anyway.
by Aaron Sloman, Honorary Professor (retired) at School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK on Mar 08, 2009
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Introduction to key ideas of semantic models, ...
Introduction to key ideas of semantic models,
implicit definitions and symbol tethering, using ideas from philosophy of science and model theoretic semantics to explain why symbol ground theory is misguided: there is no need for all symbols used by an intelligent agent to be 'grounded' in terms of experience, or sensory-motor patterns. Rather, most of the meaning of a symbol may come from its role in a powerful explanatory theory, though the theory should have some connection with experiments and observations in order to be applicable to the world. That is not the same as requiring every symbol to be linked to experiences, experiments or measurements.
Symbol grounding theory is a modern version of the philosophical theory of 'concept empiricism', which was refuted by the philosopher Immanuel Kant in the 18th century.
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