In the afternoon, after visiting San Jose and Stanford, it was time to visit Berkeley. Dr. Masoud Nikravesh of BISC had invited me to give a presentation in their seminar series. The title of the talk was "Inherent fuzziness of language: cognitive, philosophical and computational aspects".
A starting point for the talk was the argument Prof. Lotfi Zadeh has presented for the idea that the brain has a crucial ability to manipulate perceptions. Manipulation of perceptions plays a key role in human recognition, decision and execution processes. Zadeh has also pointed out that measurements are crisp whereas perceptions are fuzzy. In general, the relationship between perceptions and their linguistic descriptions is not as straightforward as often suggested, for instance, by many logicians.
Prof. Jonathan Evans has pointed out that reasoning is highly contextualized by relevant prior knowledge and belief. He has also referred to the dual process theories of reasoning that make a division between a heuristic system and an analytical system. The heuristic system has evolved early, it is shared with animals, it is rapid and parallel, has high capacity and is pragmatic. According to Evans, the analytic system is conscious and it has evolved late in the evolution.
In the presentation, I was discussing how the division into heuristic and analytic system supports Zadeh's arguments. I also showed how some issues in philosophy of language can become resolved when fuzzy systems thinking is applied.
The discussion after the presentation was lively. One active discussant was Henry Story who has commented some of the items in his blog and provided some ideas on how to apply fuzzy sets within semantic web. Those who are interested in the semantic web might wish to check our recent paper: 'Describing Rich Content: Future Directions for the Semantic Web' by Timo Honkela and Matti Pöllä (appeared in: New Developments in Artificial Intelligence and Semantic Web, Proceedings of STeP 2006, pp. 143-148).