Oct 26, 2007

The Absence Of Monologue

How do I tell them that because of the unfreezing process I have no inner monologue? I hope I didn't just say that out loud...
Austin Powers

I still don't know why humans have an internal monologue. This means I'm seriously wondering about it's evolutionary motivation, and could not imagine why I would include it in an AI design.

But of course, I'm somewhat biased from personal experience, here.

The truth is, until the age of 12 or 13 years, I myself simply had no inner monologue at all. Unlike the International Man of Mystery however, I was not talking out loud. I was simply thinking completely non-verbally all the time. This seemed to have had no negative net effect on my cognitive abilities at all; I was a bit smarter than most kids my age. (Well, maybe a bit smarter than most smart kids, too...) Social cognition or speech production, two likely first casualties, weren't impaired either. Personally, I was not even aware of this anomaly in the first place, since I did not know how noisy other minds were. When I was exposed to inner monologue in film or literature, I interpreted it as a style device, like the "sweat drop" in manga. In the same spirit, I interpreted a sentence like " The pig thought: "I should be going home" " as the pig thinking that it should go home, but not literally subverbalizing "I should be going home".

Curiously, I absolutely cannot remember how or when I started to develop an inner monologue. Neither can I remember being aware of any change for months or maybe even years. But I have biographical memories from when I was about 13 years where I was reflecting on the apparent change.

Bottom line: "thought = language" = BS.

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