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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old January 11 2013, 05:28 AM   #16
Christopher
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
I think the writers they had around in the first season of TNG just really sucked.
Rather, their work was undermined by the uncredited rewrites done by an unhealthy Roddenberry and his lawyer Leonard Maizlish. Roddenberry's clique and its treatment of the rest of the staff drove away the good writers like David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana.


I could write an NLP program that can use contractions. Heck, I could practically do it in one line of code. str.replace(/can not/g, 'can\'t).replace(/will not/g, 'won\'t').etc. Data can interpret the exact meaning of complex grammar. I think Soong could manage that one line of code.
But the kind of computer program you would write is not a sentient mind. It's as inappropriate a comparison to Data as the brain of a housefly would be to your own. Data's brain is a neural network, like the human brain. As I've said repeatedly now, the best analogy is to a human being with high-function autism -- a complex, sentient mind, but one which processes concepts and information slightly differently than most humans do and thus can do some things more easily and others less easily. Such people do, in fact, often have trouble with contractions and slang, or at least are reluctant to use them. So you're utterly wrong to assume that it's unrealistic or contradictory. You're using the wrong analogy.


scotpens wrote: View Post
Aspie kids talk like very short adults- Due to a very concrete understanding of language and advanced verbal skills, Aspie kids select and use their words carefully. Their vocal affect may sound stilted, or as if they are reading a speech off of note cards. They avoid lazy communicating, such as using slang or contractions. Instead of saying “I’m gonna’ go to karate after school, yay!” they would say something like “When school is finished I have a karate class. I like karate very much, and I am excellent at it. There are 7 kids in my karate class. There is David, and there is Robert, and…..” Aspie kids also usually don’t know how to end sentences or switch topics, and will often keep talking about a particular topic even though the listener is showing absolutely no signs of listening.
Going by that description, I could have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome when I was a kid -- if the diagnosis had existed then!
I strongly suspect the same is true of myself. I don't fit that specific description, but I think I meet quite a few of the other criteria, and it would explain quite a lot about me.
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Old January 11 2013, 05:36 AM   #17
Herkimer Jitty
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

*does not
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Old January 11 2013, 05:56 AM   #18
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

Squiggy wrote: View Post
TroiFan4ever wrote: View Post
So, what's with Data and not using contractions when even Lore in "Datalore" used contractions.
From the episode The Offspring...


DATA wrote: View Post
There do seem to be variations on the quantum level. Lal can use contractions... I cannot..
And then this...

LAL
I've been programmed with a
listing of fourteen hundred and
twelve known beverages as well
as recipes for...

Data and Guinan react...

GUINAN
What'd did you just say...

LAL
I've been programmed with...

GUINAN
"I've"... ?

DATA
Lal, you used a verbal
contraction.

GUINAN
You said I've instead of I have.

DATA
It is a skill my program has never
mastered.

LAL
Then I will desist.

DATA
No. You have exceeded my
abilities. I do not object. I
just do not understand why it has
happened.


So...he can't.
Well if you look at the actual line "It is a skill my program has never mastered"

Data doesn't actually say his programming doesn't allow him to use contractions, just that his program hasn't mastered that skill.

And like any skill some people are novie's at it whilst others are masters at it.
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Old January 11 2013, 12:33 PM   #19
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

MacLeod wrote: View Post
Data doesn't actually say his programming doesn't allow him to use contractions, just that his program hasn't mastered that skill.
But he only says it when Lal uses one contraction. ie. Her saying "I've" once is more of a mastery of language than Data could manage. Otherwise, he wouldn't have said anything about it.
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Old January 11 2013, 04:55 PM   #20
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

Which I just chalk up to a bit of bad writing. After all, there are multiple times where Data does use contractions, and they outnumber the two instances where that was claimed to be impossible. There are enough contradictions in Trek that you just drive yourself crazy if you assume every single line of dialogue is immutable truth. Sometimes you just have to ignore things that are contradicted by other things.
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Old January 11 2013, 05:18 PM   #21
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

^As you say it might be down to the script writter using a contraction. Which of course the actor just reads.
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Old January 11 2013, 05:29 PM   #22
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

^Spiner has claimed that some of the cases where it sounds like he used contractions were really just the result of talking quickly. But whatever the rationalization, the point is that there are far more instances where he did use contractions than there are instances where it was claimed to be beyond his ability. So I choose to go with the preponderance of evidence, especially since there's no logical explanation for why he'd be incapable of doing it. The most reasonable interpretation is that he can do it but has to think about it, that it doesn't come automatically like it did for Lal. Probably what he was impressed by was not that she used a contraction at all, but that she did it without realizing, that it happened spontaneously rather than being a conscious affectation as it would be for Data.
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Old January 11 2013, 06:01 PM   #23
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

No matter what explanation you chose to believe, this contraction thing still sounds ridiculous.
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Old January 11 2013, 06:28 PM   #24
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

@Christopher

I definitely see the connection between people with Aspergers, especially if you look at the episode Data's Day. But Data is not a human with Aspergers even if some of the language issues are the same. There's a whole lot bigger difference in complexity between being able to use slang and being able to use contractions. Slang requires an emotionally intuitive grasp of metaphors. It doesn't sound as aesthetically clean and discrete as saying 'can not', but contractions are literally a search and replace. There's no aesthetic comfort issue with Data, and he has shown a full grasp of far more complicated grammatical rules than contractions.

I would guess the only reason Data does not use contractions is that the producers thought it would make him sound less robotic.

Also, even though Data has trouble understanding or predicting emotions, I've seen no indication that he has trouble looking at somebody's face and guessing which emotion they're displaying.
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Old January 11 2013, 06:53 PM   #25
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

Christopher wrote: View Post

I strongly suspect the same is true of myself. I don't fit that specific description, but I think I meet quite a few of the other criteria, and it would explain quite a lot about me.
Nah... your just part Vulcan.
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Old January 11 2013, 08:42 PM   #26
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

I'm starting to dislike the whole "Asperger's Syndrome" classification.

It seems that any nerd with little social skills is attaching that "syndrome" to themselves. I'm guilty of doing the same, but I realized that there's a difference between what most people see as "nerd" and what an actual Asperger's Syndrome suffered actually is and experiences.

I'm sure we all on this board have some degree of "nerdness", which is one of the reasons we are here. At the same time I don't think there's anything nerdy about enjoying the Sci-Fi world that Star Trek provides. Other people enjoy their own fictional words, like The Sopranos, and The Walking Dead (which is bordering on Sci-Fi), and those people aren't considered nerds.
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Old January 11 2013, 09:26 PM   #27
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

The Mirrorball Man wrote: View Post
No matter what explanation you chose to believe, this contraction thing still sounds ridiculous.
And that's a very insensitive thing to say, considering that it's something that really does happen with people in real life. You might as well say it's ridiculous that some people can't walk or can't hear, or that someone with brain damage is unable to perceive the left side of their body.


JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
I definitely see the connection between people with Aspergers, especially if you look at the episode Data's Day. But Data is not a human with Aspergers even if some of the language issues are the same. There's a whole lot bigger difference in complexity between being able to use slang and being able to use contractions. Slang requires an emotionally intuitive grasp of metaphors. It doesn't sound as aesthetically clean and discrete as saying 'can not', but contractions are literally a search and replace. There's no aesthetic comfort issue with Data, and he has shown a full grasp of far more complicated grammatical rules than contractions.
But like I said, it really happens. So there must be a reason why it does. Contractions are not concrete or literal. They're essentially a form of substitution, one word taking the place of two words. That puts them in the same category as metaphors or slang, which also use one word or concept as a substitute for another. It's not about the rules of grammar or how complicated they are. That's beside the point. It's about meaning, and the ability to understand how a meaning can be expressed in a non-literal way.

When we're talking about different types of cognition and neurology, you just can't assume that something that's easy for you will be easy for everyone. Your mind works a certain way, and other people's minds can work in unexpectedly different ways. Take someone with perfect pitch, for example. Most of us, if we hear a musical phrase transposed into a different key, will recognize it as the same phrase. But people with perfect pitch are unable to perceive that equivalence, because to them, a given note is exactly that given note, and a different note is always going to be different. Transposing the melody is analogous to using a contraction or an idiom -- it's substituting one thing with something else that conveys the equivalent meaning. Most people's brains can make the leap, recognize the analogy, and understand that they're the same thing. But people with perfect pitch are too exact, too literal in how they hear music, so they're deaf to the equivalence. They can't hear them as the same thing. So it's not unbelievable that a mind that processes language in a very precise and literal way might have a similar trouble with the idea of "can't" representing the same concept as "can not," or "fired up" representing the same concept as "angry."


I would guess the only reason Data does not use contractions is that the producers thought it would make him sound less robotic.
Mainly it's because the writers of "Datalore" needed a gimmick to clue Wesley in to the fact that Lore was impersonating Data. In previous episodes -- and even earlier in the same episode -- Data used contractions routinely. It was just one bit of the sloppy writing that characterized the first season, a conseqeunce of the turbulence in the writing staff. But later writers decided to stick with it for whatever reason.


Also, even though Data has trouble understanding or predicting emotions, I've seen no indication that he has trouble looking at somebody's face and guessing which emotion they're displaying.
Now, that is implausible. In reality, people who are emotionally impaired aren't even able to perceive other people's emotions, to understand what their changes of expression mean. Empathy is a function of the mirror neurons of the brain, the part that lets us experience other people's reactions and perceptions as though they were our own. So if we don't have the capacity to experience an emotion for ourselves, we can't recognize it in other people.

But it's something that can be learned to a degree, the deficiency compensated for with practice. I assume that Data gradually learned how to recognize emotional expressions in others and wrote subroutines into his program telling him what they meant. Of course, he could do the same with contractions, but as I said, it's an affectation -- I choose to believe he can do it, but only if he makes the effort, and he generally doesn't. (Which fits the evidence, because he routinely uses contractions when quoting other people, delivering play dialogue, and the like.)


GalaxyX wrote: View Post
I'm starting to dislike the whole "Asperger's Syndrome" classification.
Well, it might not exist much longer. Under the proposed revisions to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders scheduled for publication this May, Asperger syndrome would no longer be defined as a distinct disorder, but would be folded in under autistic spectrum disorders. There have been protests to this from the Asperger community, though.
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Old January 12 2013, 12:58 AM   #28
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

Christopher wrote: View Post
And that's a very insensitive thing to say, considering that it's something that really does happen with people in real life. You might as well say it's ridiculous that some people can't walk or can't hear, or that someone with brain damage is unable to perceive the left side of their body.
Yeah yeah. Data is a machine. Machines can use contractions. Really, it's simple.
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Old January 12 2013, 01:54 AM   #29
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

No, Data is not a machine. He's a sentient being with a neural network analogous to a human brain. An amoeba is a biological machine acting out a simple series of preprogrammed behaviors. A human being is also a biological machine, but that doesn't mean we can be validly compared to an amoeba or a housefly or some other vastly simpler organism. What matters isn't whether his physical substrate is naturally evolved or artificially constructed; what matters is the structure of his brain and the nature of the processes that go on within it. Cognitively speaking, Data is far more analogous to a human being than to a PC or an iWhatever.

What's fundamentally inept about your analogy is that your computer can't use contractions. It can spit out contractions when programmed to do so, but it can't decide to use a contraction or understand what it means. It's just processing numbers that correspond to patterns on a screen that our brains can recognize as letters that spell out a word we understand as a contraction. There's no actual cognition involved, no choice. The decision-making was done by the human beings who programmed it to follow certain algorithms. Data, by contrast, is actually thinking, choosing words with awareness of their meaning. That entails layers of cognitive processing, comprehension, analogy, and abstraction of the sort I've been discussing. It's a completely unrelated thing.
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Old January 12 2013, 09:07 AM   #30
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Re: I think Data just doesn't LIKE to use contractions.

Christopher wrote: View Post
No, Data is not a machine. He's a sentient being with a neural network analogous to a human brain. An amoeba is a biological machine acting out a simple series of preprogrammed behaviors. A human being is also a biological machine, but that doesn't mean we can be validly compared to an amoeba or a housefly or some other vastly simpler organism. What matters isn't whether his physical substrate is naturally evolved or artificially constructed; what matters is the structure of his brain and the nature of the processes that go on within it. Cognitively speaking, Data is far more analogous to a human being than to a PC or an iWhatever.

What's fundamentally inept about your analogy is that your computer can't use contractions. It can spit out contractions when programmed to do so, but it can't decide to use a contraction or understand what it means. It's just processing numbers that correspond to patterns on a screen that our brains can recognize as letters that spell out a word we understand as a contraction. There's no actual cognition involved, no choice. The decision-making was done by the human beings who programmed it to follow certain algorithms. Data, by contrast, is actually thinking, choosing words with awareness of their meaning. That entails layers of cognitive processing, comprehension, analogy, and abstraction of the sort I've been discussing. It's a completely unrelated thing.
I'm sorry, you obviously feel very passionate about this. Data being a fictional character first and foremost, I think your rationale works, but so does mine.
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