This post is an exercise in

Babble - LessWrong

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2021-09-27 23:00:03

This post is an exercise in "identifying with the algorithm." I'm a big fan of the probabilistic method and randomized algorithms, so my biases will show.

How do human beings produce knowledge? When we describe rational thought processes, we tend to think of them as essentially deterministic, deliberate, and algorithmic. After some self-examination, however, I've come to think that my process is closer to babbling many random strings and later filtering by a heuristic. I think verbally, and my process for generating knowledge is virtually indistinguishable from my process for generating speech, and also quite similar to my process for generating writing.

Here's a simplistic model of how this works. I try to build a coherent sentence. At each step, to pick the next word, I randomly generate words in the category (correct part of speech, relevance) and sound them out one by one to see which continues the sentence most coherently. So, instead of deliberately and carefully generating sentences in one go, the algorithm is something like:

Research on language development suggests that baby babble is an direct forerunner to language. You might imagine that infants learn by imitation, and that baby babble is just an imperfect imitation of words the baby hears, and progress occurs as they physiologically adapt to better produce those sounds. You would be wrong.

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