Symbols

Symbols

Symbols are the building blocks of thoughts and understanding. Symbols can be written script, images, sounds, even smells, taste, things which trigger our senses and give us information. A collection of symbols is language. Languages like English, Telugu, Japanese, Chinese, etc, and also languages like Math, music, physics, etc. Every language has their own collection of symbols that is used to model the world and communicate information. Some symbols are more accurate than others for modeling and communication.

Let's take English as an example. The base symbols are the alphabet. You start with the letters, then build higher order symbols with words. The words can refer to things in the world like objects, animals, etc and concepts, phenomena, etc like birth, death, constellations, eclipses, etc, and stories, laws, etc. to communicate increasingly complex and dense pieces of information. Symbols are also images, there are flags, logos, street signs, etc which are all symbols that communicate information that's universally understood. Symbols can also be sounds like a school bell, fire alarms, etc. Symbols can be smells like the smell of cooking or the smell of waste. There are symbols that trigger your other senses and generate feelings, like fear, happiness, sadness, etc. Some symbols are personal and have meaning to an individual or a small group and some are universal and can be understood by all. Some symbols are easy to understand and communicate because they provide the full meaning without any ambiguity, but there are also some symbols which are subjective and open to personal interpretation, so cannot be understood the same way by all.

A good language should be easy to learn and be able to model the world comprehensively and clearly, so we can communicate with each other unambiguously while balancing ease of learning and conciseness. Math is probably the most unambiguous language we have, but the symbols require a lot of effort to learn for most people. The stories in most languages are the most popular symbols that we currently have, the religious stories, fairy tales, myths, the moral lessons are the shared symbols that are the easiest to understand and communicate with each other. It is easy to learn this language and communicate with it, but it is very ambiguous and open to a lot of personal interpretation, it's not obvious if the meaning we intend to communicate is understood by the receiver in the same way and vice versa. Humanity is still working on ways to communicate better and build a more harmonious world with less war and distrust. My hope is that languages that we are building to communicate with computers will eventually help us build an unambiguous way to model the world and communicate with each other. If we can come up with a way to explain the universe and the world and our ideas to a rock, I think we can find a way to arrive at a communicate with each other much better.