[ExI] e: GPT-4 on its inability to solve the symbol grounding problem

Giovanni Santostasi gsantostasi at gmail.com
Mon Apr 17 21:22:45 UTC 2023

*Start with three main components:a. Sensorimotor experience (perception
and action)b. Symbolic representation (language, symbols)c. Grounding (the
process that connects symbols to experience)*Gordon,
I have already said asking things directly to GPT-4 it is not always the
best way to test its knowledge of itself. But you are using it as a tool to
help you with your imagination and express your ideas, that is ironic but
The problem with the above is the "process that connects symbols to
experience". But how do you get symbols in the first place?
Do you realize that making symbols is the exact opposite of "grounding"?
It is the exact opposite process because you may start with a "real" apple
in front of you to a generalization of apple that is based on seeing many
apples, excluding other objects from the apple category and so on. You need
to compare apples to apples (see what I did there?) and apples to oranges
to understand what an apple is. It is about the relationships, the
connections. The grounding you talk about is a possible way to do (that is
relevant for evolutionary purposes) but it is not the ONLY way to do it.
Any relationship would do.
I don't have time right now but later I will do an experiment. I will come
up with invented objects that have certain common characteristics, like
edges (basically geometrical shapes). Then train an AI to create categories
based on whatever the AI things is in common among these objects. I bet you
that it will be able to create categories just from comparing these objects
with each other even if these objects are abstract (I said shapes but they
can be described by a set of numbers or even a rule to make them). Once you
have the categories you can assign words to them so we know what we talk
about and then have a convo.
Language can be built from relationships without referents to the real
world or better said the only way to build meaning in language is to rely
on the relationships. The grounding process you have in mind, Gordon, is
not what really happens in reality. Maybe the grounding you imagine gives
you solace but it is not really what happens in real life.


On Mon, Apr 17, 2023 at 1:58 PM Gordon Swobe via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 17, 2023 at 1:58 PM Ben Zaiboc via extropy-chat <
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:
> I suppose that's what I want, a graphical representation
>> of what you mean by 'grounding', incorporating these links.
> Not sure how to do it incorporating your links. I started scratching my
> head trying to think of the best way to diagram it, then it occured to me
> to ask GPT-4. It certainly "understands" the symbol grounding problem and
> why it cannot solve it for itself. Here is its solution.
> Prompt:
> How would you draw a diagram of symbol grounding to make it easy to
> understand?
> Continuation:
> To create an easily understandable diagram of symbol grounding, follow
> these steps:
> Start with three main components:
> a. Sensorimotor experience (perception and action)
> b. Symbolic representation (language, symbols)
> c. Grounding (the process that connects symbols to experience)
> Draw three circles, one for each component, and label them accordingly:
> a. A circle for "Sensorimotor Experience" at the bottom left
> b. A circle for "Symbolic Representation" at the bottom right
> c. A circle for "Grounding" at the top center
> Connect the circles with arrows to represent the flow of information:
> a. Draw an arrow from "Sensorimotor Experience" to "Grounding"
> b. Draw an arrow from "Symbolic Representation" to "Grounding"
> c. Draw an arrow from "Grounding" back to both "Sensorimotor Experience"
> and "Symbolic Representation"
> Add brief descriptions to each arrow to clarify the processes:
> a. Arrow from "Sensorimotor Experience" to "Grounding": "Extraction of
> features and patterns"
> b. Arrow from "Symbolic Representation" to "Grounding": "Association of
> symbols with features and patterns"
> c. Arrow from "Grounding" back to "Sensorimotor Experience": "Guided
> perception and action"
> d. Arrow from "Grounding" back to "Symbolic Representation": "Generation
> of meaningful symbols"
> Add examples to make the diagram more relatable:
> a. Next to "Sensorimotor Experience", you can add an image of a cat and a
> person observing the cat
> b. Next to "Symbolic Representation", you can write the word "cat" or draw
> a simple icon representing a cat
> c. Add an image of a brain or a thinking cloud in the "Grounding" circle
> With these steps, you will create a diagram that visually represents the
> concept of symbol grounding, making it easier to understand. The examples
> and descriptions help clarify the connections between sensorimotor
> experiences, symbolic representations, and the grounding process.
> -GPT-4
> ---
> -gts
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