Re: Is anyone surprised ? Really ?
"No amount of clever keyword wrangling is ever going to match true intelligence - which involves KNOWING WHAT THE WORDS MEAN. Not what your database of lexical connections thinks "meaning" is. But ACTUAL MEANING."
I know this isn't the place for actual philosophical debate, but we have yet to decide what the quoted passage itself means. Fundamentally, we will not be able to easily train algorithms to divine meaning from sentences because we ourselves cannot do that.
The words trigger concepts in our brain, and putting words near each other triggers concepts sequentially, in the hope that those linked concepts elicit some sort of understanding in the reader. Unfortunately, the reader does not possess this knowledge beforehand, and so does not have the shared experiences necessary to form this understanding quickly. Thus we must choose our words carefully in order to force the reader to make the leap of knowledge necessary to pass on this information.
This is why writing is hard. But Wittgenstein and others had trouble even with the notion that any thought can be shared, as one would need to have all of the previous experiences of the writer in order to truly understand that which they had written. In practice, this does make a difference, and impinges on what is the topic of this article.
If you are a member of a particular social grouping then you have previous shared experiences and knowledge that mean that the sentence 'Whassup nigger?' means something very different to someone from my social grouping. Offense is just one facet of this. Take the following example sentence, that I said earlier today:
'I think the diagonal sits on top.'
Each of those words has a meaning in the dictionary, and if you read it, you will have no idea what the meaning of the sentence is. If you add extra knowledge 'The two people are joiners' then one has a better guess as to what the sentence means, but you need to know exactly what is being built to know whether I am right in thinking that.
However, I am not a joiner. I am a pure mathematician. Now the meaning of diagonal changes completely, but probably to something in geometry. But I am not a geometer, I am a finite group theorist. Now the meaning of diagonal is more clear: it is short for 'diagonal automorphism', and I am thinking that a diagonal automorphism is acting on some finite group of Lie type. But unless you know which finite group I am considering, you cannot answer that question either.
In short, although context is key to the meaning of a sentence, context is not just subjective, but purely invested in the author of the sentence. Any attempt to transfer information through words is likely doomed to failure because not everyone has the same shared experiences and attitudes. Even simple factual sentences can be misinterpreted, for example as the author being sarcastic.