Disagreements, Problems, Possibilities

  • Michael L. Johnson


Most AI theorists and researchers would agree with Hofstadter’s arguments or at least be in close sympathy with them, as would information theorists like MacKay. Jackson, for example, contends that ‘There is no known a priori limit to the extensibility of a computer’s language capability other than those limits of a purely practical nature (memory size and processing speed)’ and that, ‘Although the difficulties involved with understanding natural language should not be minimized, no one has been able to show … that English is theoretically outside the language capability of all computers ….’1 However, a number of computer scientists and others, like Steiner, would deny that any formalism ever could simulate natural-language processes fully, even in theory. Weizenbaum’s opinions in that regard are well known and representative.


Natural Language Formal Grammar Modern Logic Everyday Communication Transformational Grammar 
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  1. 1.
    Philip C. Jackson, Jr, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (New York: Petrocelli Books, 1974), p. 339.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Jacob Bronowski, The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1978), p. 103.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Noam Chomsky, Language and Mind, enlarged edn (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972), p. 99.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Robert Wall, Introduction to Mathematical Linguistics (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972), p. 290.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Richard M. Martin, ‘On Ziff’s “Natural and Formal Languages”’, in Language and Philosophy, ed. Hook, p. 249.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Daniel C. Dennett, ‘Computer Models and the Mind — a View from the East Pole’, Times Literary Supplement, 14 Dec. 1984, p. 1453.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    Ibid. See also W. Daniel Hillis, ‘The Connection Machine’, Scientific American, June 1987, pp. 108–15.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Michael L. Johnson 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of KansasUK

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