Symbols: Shorthand For Ideas

Your 3-year-old has declared that he and the closet are going to Asia.

Asia, like America, is a concept that depends on our ability to think symbolically. America exists only because a group of people got together more than 200 years ago and decided that this great mass of land directly to the south of Canada should bear that name.

California wasn't America, and then it was. It became America because a group of people decided


This is something important to consider in developing artificial intelligence, how symbolic thought works. When we consider "China", the word evokes an understanding of an abstract concept: a geographic location, an ethnicity of people, language, fashion, culture, population, etc. All the details of what "China" is are really abstracted away, we accept an immense amount of ambiguity in our understanding of the concept.

Folksonomies: abstraction symbolic thought human evolution artificial intelligence

/travel/tourist destinations/mexico and central america (0.735546)
/travel/tourist destinations/south america (0.393967)
/business and industrial/company/bankruptcy (0.287928)

Asia. (0.961453 (positive:0.284106)), America (0.950783 (positive:0.283015)), great mass (0.934036 (positive:0.330123)), group (0.744923 (positive:0.330123)), people (0.744355 (positive:0.330123)), closet (0.697829 (positive:0.284106)), concept (0.650543 (positive:0.264311)), ability (0.650047 (positive:0.264311)), California (0.618873 (neutral:0.000000)), land (0.617507 (positive:0.330123)), south (0.616966 (positive:0.330123)), Canada (0.616695 (positive:0.330123))

America:Continent (0.944238 (positive:0.298718)), Asia.:Country (0.236875 (positive:0.284106)), Canada:Country (0.235915 (positive:0.330123)), Asia:Continent (0.231792 (positive:0.264311)), California:StateOrCounty (0.214750 (neutral:0.000000)), 200 years:Quantity (0.214750 (neutral:0.000000)), 3-year:Quantity (0.214750 (neutral:0.000000))

United States (0.933634): website | dbpedia | ciaFactbook | freebase | opencyc | yago
Southern United States (0.885441): dbpedia | freebase
American Revolution (0.793574): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Gay community (0.713331): dbpedia
American Civil War (0.654446): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 When Did We Become Mentally Modern?
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Spiegel, Alix (August 9, 2010), When Did We Become Mentally Modern?, National Public Radio,, Retrieved on -0001-11-30
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: evolution