[ExI] internet privacy

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Jul 21 14:43:02 UTC 2014

William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> , 21/7/2014 4:29 PM:
 The point of language is to communicate meaning. So words have to mean
 the same thing to other speakers of that language. So you look at
 context. That's how dead languages are eventually translated.
 Codes on the other hand are a jumble of meaningless letters until the
 key is applied.

​I am not convinced.  A completely new language, not akin to Indo European or anything else, is just a jumble of meaningless letters without a key.​  ​How could you figure out the context?  It could be a car manual or poems on death for all you know. 
Have you looked at elementary cryptoanalysis, like cracking substitution cyphers? Once you see statistical regularities you can start deducing a lot of things if you are clever. And human languages do have a fairly complex statistical structure - Zipf laws, entropy distributions, recursion etc. You can of course invent something utterly dissimilar (just check out some of the really weird conlangs like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C4%93len), but then using it becomes extremely hard. If "The enemy is attacking by air on tuesday" has to be expressed as a superposition of emotion-states with no nouns and spelling looking like cartoon swearing, then usage will be weak. Even Klingon is just a lot of unusual options found in human languages strung together to make a kind of linguist-in-joke (and even linguists find it hard to learn to use), but still likely very decypherable to a motivated opponent. 

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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