01 JAN 2010 by ideonexus

 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
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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.