Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Offloading Cognition onto the Web

Carr, L. and Harnad, S. (2011) Offloading Cognition onto the WebIEEE Intelligent Systems, 26 (1).

In modeling human cognitive capacity there is a question of what needs to be built in and what can be left out, because we can offload it onto cognitive technology, such as a google web search. Word meanings can be represented in two different ways: sensorimotor and verbal. Verbals definitions and descriptions can be offloaded, sensorimotor representations cannot. Dictionaries have a "grounding kernel" of words from which all other words can be reached through recombinatory definition alone. The words are learned at an earlier age and are more concrete. We tested conjunctive and disjunctive google search for target terms that had their own wikipedia entries, using either the target terms themselves, or the three words that had the highest co-occurrence frequency (latent semantic analysis) with the target words in Wordnet. The highly co-occurring words were surprisingly ineffective in retrieving the target word, even in joint conjunctive and disjunctive searches and there was no significant correlation with age of acquisition or concreteness. This raises some questions about the similarity between human associative memory and google-based associative search.

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