Scientific Sense Podcast

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Language optimization

Language, a distinct advantage that separated humans from chimps, may become a liability for them in a regime of accelerating information and forced specialization. Early on, language provided efficient communication among clan members with relatively simple objective functions to optimize. Later, as they branched into art, philosophy and literature, language became a construct that may have touched the souls of some, but it also meant that it began to lose the communication efficiency, it was originally designed to do. Presently, conventional languages, with complex semantics and grammar, appear unable to distill and communicate critical technical information.

Computer languages, that stay at a lower level without flowery grammar, are certainly more efficient to program machines. In the human sphere, millennials have been experimenting with a variety of constructs that remove the complexity of grammar and schema, but it is unclear if any of the current methods are efficient in communicating content. In an environment of deep but not broad knowledge per individual, science and engineering may need to invent a modern language that does not constrain them to formats that are designed for different purposes. For example, the abstract of a scientific article, that often limits the format to certain number of words but force the author to utilize inefficient grammar, lose in multiple ways.

It is time to rethink scientific language. Nobody has the time to read through the entire paper and content is not complete in allowed abstract format that conforms to artificial and old constraints.

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