[ExI] Artificial Intelligence Cracks 4,000-Year-Old Mystery

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Apr 25 18:06:06 UTC 2009

Dan wrote:

> http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/indusscript.html

where Rao runs a program and finds a lot of

 > See also "A Refutation of the Claimed
 > Refutation of the Nonlinguistic Nature
 > of Indus Symbols: Invented Data Sets
 > in the Statistical Paper of Rao et alia" at:
 > http://www.safarmer.com/Refutation3.pdf
 > Comments?

The history of reading ancient scripts
usually exhibits this pattern: specialists
cannot read the script and fall for the
"ideographic myth", that the symbols
communicate on a non-linguistic basis
by means of pure thought.

But no purely pictorial languages have
ever been found, short of our street
signs (curve ahead, no left turn, etc.).

But Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel counter

     The implausibility of the view that
     the so-called Indus script was true
     writing is suggested in many ways
     that do not require sophisticated
     analyses. The simplest argument is
     the best: the sheer brevity of the
     inscriptions. We possess thousands
     of inscribed Indus objects on a wide
     range of materials. The average
     inscription is 4-5 symbols long
     and the longest, found on a highly
     anomalous piece, carries 17.

So maybe they're right, and it's no language.

What will happen is this: some aspiring
Champollion or Ventris will be swayed
by Rao's paper, and try. He or she will
either get a sense that it's a language,
or join the skeptics' camp. Hopefully,
enough will indeed get a sense that it's
a true language, and eventually solve it.

But pretty smart people used to look for
messages in Shakespeare and the Bible.


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