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Paper: Symbol Systems and Pictorial Representations
Volume: 213, Bioastronomy '99: A New Era in Bioastronomy
Page: 619
Authors: Diederich, Joachim; Wright, Susan
Abstract: All problem-solvers are subject to the same ultimate constraints -- limitations on space, time, and materials (Minsky, 1985). He introduces two principles: (1) Economics: Every intelligence must develop symbol-systems for representing objects, causes and goals, and (2) Sparseness: Every evolving intelligence will eventually encounter certain very special ideas -- e.g., about arithmetic, causal reasoning, and economics -- because these particular ideas are very much simpler than other ideas with similar uses. An extra-terrestrial intelligence (ETI) would have developed symbol systems to express these ideas and would have the capacity of multi-modal processing. Vakoch (1998) states that ...``ETI may rely significantly on other sensory modalities (than vision). Particularly useful representations would be ones that may be intelligible through more than one sensory modality. For instance, the information used to create a three-dimensional representation of an object might be intelligible to ETI heavily reliant on either visual or tactile sensory processes.'' The cross-modal representations Vakoch (1998) describes and the symbol systems Minsky (1985) proposes are called ``metaphors'' when combined. Metaphors allow for highly efficient communication. Metaphors are compact, condensed ways of expressing an idea: words, sounds, gestures or images are used in novel ways to refer to something they do not literally denote. Due to the importance of Minsky's ``economics'' principle, it is therefore possible that a message heavily relies on metaphors.
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