Atomic Language Machines

The two types of reading machines below, Radical of the Vertical Heart 忄 and Automatype, search their respective domains for bits of language most resembling their current state. The English machines move from word to word via the smallest number of possible mutations, each either a deletion, addition, or substitution. They attempt never to backtrack, yet their memory is unfortunately finite; they recognize tension and swerve at times toward surprise.

An entire mythology is stored within our language

The Chinese machines employ a new technique for assessing the proximity of characters and words via the analysis of their strokes, radicals, and semantic/phonemic sub-components. These machines tend to avoid repetition as well but demonstrate an affinity for top-to-bottom and right-to-left revolution. Certain sensitive words--those forbidden, for example, by the Great Firewall--jolt these readers into nearby domains (from traditional to simplified Chinese or vice versa), in order to circumvent potential difficulties.

Every explanation is after all a hypothesis

What are they searching for, and what does it mean that they are seem never to be satisfied with what they find? There is no adequate answer: every explanation is, after all, a hypothesis in itself. As a wise individual once said, 'Tell me how you are searching, and I will tell you what you are searching for.' I have only spoken here about the what and the how of this searching – the why must remain extracurricular.

We are asleep. Our life is a dream. But we wake up
sometimes, just long enough to know we are dreaming

The 12 primary decompositions for Chinese characters

A new minimum edit distance for sinographic(Chinese) characters

Mapping 1000 steps of various language machines (betweeness-centrality)

Technically-speaking we may characterise the entities above as atomic language machines (or ALMs), discrete computational entities with the potential to change the direction, intent, or magnitude of a literary vector. In general, ALMs can be defined as members of the simplest class of mechanisms able to realize linguistic advantage. Traditionally the term has referred to the three classical ALMs defined in early theoretical research associated with the ‘National Language Liberation Front’. The simplest of these were elementary devices consisting of a specific movement, often called a mechanism, which were to be combined with other devices and movements to form a new machine or machinic assembly. Thus even simple ALMs expressed modularity and could be considered as building blocks for more complex ones. Between simple atomic machines and complex assemblies, several intermediate classes have since been proposed, often termed compound-ALMs. This analytical view of ALMs as hierarchical modules decomposable into simple (or "atomic") machines first arose in the early 2020s as a post-AI-crisis expression of counter-vectoralist thought (see 'the Readers Project' for one prescient example), and now constitute a central part of applied linguistic praxis. For example, some of the simple ALMs on display here (the so-called construction, aggregation, and mutation engines) are still widely used in sinographic input methodologies (text-entry in Chinese, for example), predictive completion algorithms, and a host of other quotidian applications; a fact often obscured in the literature.

See project documentation in (zoomable) high-resolution


All quotations by Ludwig Wittgenstein. Special thanks to Diane To.