Learn About Artificial Intelligence, and You’ll Write Better
You just never know where you’re going to learn something. I just learned about simplifying my writing from an article about artificial intelligence. This one is a fascinating look at some really exciting news from Google’s stealthy DeepMind acquisition.
The heart of the lesson has to do with how the human mind stores information in memory:
“Miller’s striking conclusion was that the capacity of short-term memory cannot be defined by the amount of information it contains. Instead Miller concluded that the working memory stores information in the form of “chunks” and that it could hold approximately seven of them.”
“That raises the curious question: what is a chunk? In Miller’s experiments, a chunk could be a single digit such as a 4, a single letter such as a q, a single word or a small group of words that together have some specific meaning. So each chunk can represent anything from a very small amount of information to a hugely complex idea that is equivalent to large amounts of information.”
“But however much information a single chunk represents, the human brain can store only about seven of them in its working memory.”
“Here is an example. Consider the following sentence: “This book is a thrilling read with a complex plot and lifelike characters.”
“This sentence consists of around seven chunks of information and is clearly manageable for any ordinary reader.”
“By contrast, try this sentence: “This book about the Roman Empire during the first years of Augustus Caesar’s reign at the end of the Roman Republic, describes the events following the bloody Battle of Actium in 31 BC when the young emperor defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra by comprehensively outmaneuvering them in a major naval engagement.”
“This sentence contains at least 20 chunks. So if you found it more difficult to read, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The human brain has trouble holding this many chunks in its working memory.”
So, that’s why keeping your sentences to less than seven chunks of information is important. But then, how do we go on to construct more complex understandings beyond just a sentence?
“Miller’s answer is that the brain uses a trick known as a recoding. Let’s go back to our example of the book and add another sentence: “This book is a thrilling read with a complex plot and lifelike characters. It is clearly worth the cover price.”
“Once you have read and understood the first sentence, your brain stores those seven chunks in a way that is available as a single chunk in the next sentence. In this second sentence, the pronoun “it” is this single chunk. Our brain automatically knows that “it” means: “the book that is a thrilling read with a complex plot and lifelike characters.” It has recoded the seven earlier chunks into a single chunk.”
See. It pays to pay attention to artificial intelligence. You just never know what you might learn. 🙂
Read all about it here:
#writing #ai #deeplearning