We need quite different functionality than statistics to model language. We may need this functionality in other areas of intelligence, but with language it is obvious. Or, for the DL community – we can model anything with statistics, of course. It will just not be a very good model …
What follows is that the synaptic plasticity that produces statistical learning does not allow us to build a human language model. Weight adjustment of connections in a graph is simply not sufficient – under any possible model of language to capture language competency.
This is where it becomes interesting. We have just stated that the synaptic plasticity hypothesis of memory is wrong, or else our mammalian brains would be incapable of producing novel sentences and novel text, something we have not memorized before.
I don’t think neural networks are still in their infancy, I think they are moribund. Some say, they hit a roadblock. AI used to be based on rules, symbols and logic. Then probability and statistics came along, and neural networks were created as an efficient statistical paradigm. But unfortunately, the old AI (GOFAI) was discontinued, it was replaced by statistics. Since then ever more powerful computers and ever more data came along, therefore statistics, neural networks (NN), machine learning seemed to create value, even though they were based on simple concepts from the late eighties, early nineties or even earlier. We failed to develop, success was easy. Some argue for hybrid models, combining GOFAI and NN. But that was tried early on, and it wasn’t very successful. What we now need is a new, and deeper understanding of what the brain actually does. Because it obviously does symbol manipulation, it does logic, it does math. Most importantly, we humans learned to speak, using nothing better than a mammalian brain (with a few specializations). I believe there is a new paradigm out there which can fulfill these needs: language, robotics, cognition, knowledge creation. I call it the vertical-horizontal model: a model of neuron interaction, where the neuron is a complete microprocessor of a very special kind. This allows to build a symbolic brain. There will be a trilogy of papers to describe this new paradigm, and a small company to build the necessary concepts. At the present time, here is a link to an early draft, hard to read, not a paper, more a collection right now, but ready for feedback at my email! I’ll soon post a summary here as well.