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 So are we training these guys?

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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 7:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I surely agree with you, just have to wonder who would be stupid enough to really fly to a place like Lagos! You are right about the corruption, that is probably why majority of the scammers operate in Nigeria. Maybe some of them really are working for the state, who knows... But one thing is for sure, they never have the money they claim to have!
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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 8:04 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Although my experience with mugus is clearly theoretical yet (i.e. I just started my first two baits), I have an opinion that these guys cannot be more clever than their victims. Maybe the few bosses have some wit.

Someone told me that the people you can most easily sell something to are the salesmen.

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Heliogabalus
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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 4:16 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
You all have good points here, the main thing is that what we do can't make the problem worse, just the opposite. It is a law of nature: the more someone wastes his time the less time he has to do something profitable


Yes, they have less time to profit, but still have time, it won't neutralize them, if a baiter can run 4 or 5 baits using your spare time, how many scams a mugu could do using his full time?

Unless all of them are baits, they could still be scamming, or even now they are being bated and keep going on it (mainly if you give 'em documents and "tips" for efective scam) all of this while scamming someone else, at the same time.

I know that wasting their time, and money, is efective, but how efective?

Anyway, if 'Princess Ajana' have time for a real scam I'd be impressed Rolling Eyes

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Anri
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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 4:49 am Reply with quoteBack to top

[quote="Heliogabalus"]
Quote:
Anyway, if 'Princess Ajana' have time for a real scam I'd be impressed Rolling Eyes


yeah, i'm really really happy with the way that's working out. i can't imagine she has much time for anything else right now.

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Badger Nose
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PostPosted: Fri May 14, 2004 3:21 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

"I'm wondering if the same holds for mugus. That is, we're spending our time on the 90% that aren't going anywhere, which is why they're so desperate and willing to bow to our whims. The 10% are more organized, read sites like this, share information on marks, and recognize people like us within about 3 nanoseconds."

Those 90 percent are the catchers, who really don't need to have language skills, computer skills, forged documents, etc., etc. All they are there for is to do the donkey-work of sending out scads of email offers, and sort the responses. As you get passed up the line, you have already been vetted to some degree. It is assumed that you are an idiot for not recognizing it is a scam in the first place so a little intellectual independence on your part isn't out of the ordinary.

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Internet Avenger
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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 3:25 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Don't forget that if a scammer sends out 1000 e-mails and get back four replies, and all of them are real victims, it makes it easy for them.

If they send out 1000 e-mails, and get back 43 replies, of which 39 are baiters -- it requires much more effort to sort through everything. This is especially true if you send a generic reply requesting more information and volunteering that you are a church, recent widow, retired couple that need money, etc.
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mathers419
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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 3:56 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Heliogabalus wrote:
Yes, they have less time to profit, but still have time, it won't neutralize them, if a baiter can run 4 or 5 baits using your spare time, how many scams a mugu could do using his full time?


But, they aren't doing it full time, since they mostly use internet cafes it seems. Otherwise it wouldn't take so long for the scammer to get back to you at times.

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BlackBread
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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2004 11:43 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
But, they aren't doing it full time, since they mostly use internet cafes it seems. Otherwise it wouldn't take so long for the scammer to get back to you at times.


That or they are idle gits ...
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Buta Shi
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 12:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I like the way Avenger explained it, but there are other advantages to baiting them. One is TIME. Here in Japan, authorities are going to great effort to explain the scams in print, television, and internet fora. Given just a few days, anybody can make a dumb decision, but after talking with friends and relatively well-informed people, who would decide to send money to MUGUS?

I have discussed this with 10 average people who are not really computer literate. They all laughed when I said I responded. They thought I was absolutely bonkers. It did not occur to them to do anything but "pitch" the pitch.

So anyway, if the short time from contact to response is stretched a couple of days, if the signal to noise ratio is low enough, if the variety of responses is high enough... frankly... they will just have to quit.

If you look at this forum's members' age data and demographic data here, you can see that almost all of us are likely to have high incomes. Assuming that we are representative, they have managed to reach the "right people" but are now frustrated with the much more difficult problem of figuring out who is real and who is fake among their responses. It is a battle of wits that they can't win. They must all of a sudden become linguistically proficient, literate, technologically proficient, able to command and coordinate resources, able to project a plausible corporate persona... ... and you know... if they could do all that, they really would be elite, not wannabes. I feel bad saying this, but all the trouble they go through for a couple of thousand dollars... it says something...

I am fascinated by what I see on this forum. Creativity, effort, technological "know-how", information, experience, data. People are using bots, relays, scripts, batch processing, TEAMWORK, media, law enforcement, voicemail, and very little money to just stop this scamming cold.

Baiters are not only harrassing the scammers and introducing risk, they are also deterring new entrants by raising the costs to the mugus. New technology will inevitably lower costs of internet access in that region, but baiters are increasing the costs of illegitimate use of that technology That is another important social service.

To direct the lion's share of appreciation where it is due, the creators and moderators of this forum deserve the credit. Individuals can mount attacks against scammers, but sharing ideas, giving encouragement, support, coordination... and just making it fun... that comes from this creation of 419eater.

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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 1:20 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Another way to look at these questions: We have people here, like me, who like to bait fewer lads in depth, and then we have people who do high volume baiting using automated methods. Is it better to burn one lad in depth or to merely singe dozens?

The optimal solution is AI, for AI would allow scambaiting to be highly automated and yet psychologically detrimental to the lads. We need to reach as many lads as possible with AI tools that would waste their time and resources in extremis. As theorists Sperber and Origgi say in the article I post below:

"In these conditions, the study of the evolution of language must be closely associated to that of the evolution of naïve psychology. Likewise, the study of the evolution of languages must systematically take into account their pragmatic dimension."

Hence, my AI prototype for scambaiting is JDOG X:

Image


JDOG X is a scambaiting robot, a cyber-tokoloshe really, whose AI is built around an IBM Big Blue supercomputer which employs genetic algorithms and so JDOG X becomes smarter with each bait -- and it does so by adapting psychology to language, albeit in a naive fashion at first. However, the lads will not notice and so the basis of JDOG X's AI is valid on an a priori basis if we assume a Laddity IQ of <100 as the mean.

Language theorists Dan Sperber and Gloria Origgi speak to how JDOG X will work:

A Pragmatic Perspective on the Evolution of Langage and Languages
Gloria Origgi, Dan Sperber
(Translated from French by Marcel Lieberman)

http://www.interdisciplines.org/coevolution/papers/6/1/1

Two Views of Linguistic Communication

Simplifying somewhat, one can contrast two models of linguistic communication: the classical model of communication, or the “code model”, and the inferential model. According to the code model, the communicator encodes her message by means of a signal that the hearer then decodes. Sentences of a language are just complex signals that encode messages.

Against this model, pragmatic linguistics objects that the same sentence can be used to communicate an indefinite number of different messages that cannot be retrieved by simple decoding. Take, for example, the sentence: “It’s too slow.” This very ordinary sentence does not present any particular linguistic difficulty. Yet, it can be used to convey an indefinite number of meanings, for example: The mouse is too slow in solving the maze; The chemical reaction is too slow compared to what we expected; The decrease in unemployment is too slow to avoid social unrest; Jacques’ car is too slow (and so I’d suggest we take Pierre’s) etc. In order to discover what meaning is transmitted by the uttering of this sentence, one needs contextual information. Contextual information will help one understand what “it” refers to, what kind of slowness is at issue (slowness of movement, of thought, of a process, etc.), and what criteria determine the value of “too”. It will help one recognize the more or less literal, hyperbolic or ironic character of the utterance. Lastly, it will help one retrieve its possible implicatures.

According to the inferential model, different versions of which have been developed in contemporary pragmatics, an utterance is a piece of evidence of the speaker’s meaning. Decoding the linguistic sentence meaning is seen as just one part of the process of comprehension—a process that relies on both this linguistic meaning and on the context in order to identify the speaker’s meaning. It was the philosopher Paul Grice (1957) who first developed this point of view. He approached the relationship between sentence meaning and speaker’s meaning in an original way. Speaker’s meaning, in Grice’s analysis, is a complex communicative intention that must be recognized by the hearer in order to be fulfilled. It is an intention to achieve a certain effect upon the mind of the hearer by means of the hearer’s recognition of the very intention to achieve this effect.

Seen this way, communication depends upon the ability of human beings to attribute mental states to others; that is, it depends upon their naïve psychology. This ability has been the subject of considerable work in developmental psychology (Baron-Cohen et al., 2000) and in the study of the evolution of social behavior (Byrne and Whyten, 1988). Humans spontaneously interpret one another’s behavior, not as simple body movements, but as the belief-guided fulfillment of intentions. Living in a world inhabited not only by physical objects and living bodies, but also by mental states, humans may want to act upon these mental states. They may seek to change the desires and beliefs of others. Such action can be carried out unbeknownst to the person one seeks to influence. It can also be performed overtly—one makes it manifest that one is traying to cause one’s audience to believe or desire something—and then it is a communication proper.

Communication is achieved by giving the hearer evidence of the meaning one intends to communicate. This evidence can be of any sort—gestures, mimicry, showings; and they can be coded or not, provided that they allow the hearer to infer the speaker’s meaning.

In inferential communication the communicator seeks to fulfill her intention by making it manifest to the hearer. Such a procedure carries a clear risk: the hearer, recognizing that one seeks to influence him, can easily foil this intention. On the other hand, inferential communication, because of the very fact that it is overt, has two advantages that make it generally much more powerful than all the other ways of acting upon people’s mental states. While a mistrustful hearer may refuse to be influenced, a hearer who trusts the communicator’s competence and honesty will make an effort to understand a message that he’ll be willing to accept. More importantly still, whereas the manipulation of the mental states of others by non-communicational means is relatively cumbersome to enact and always imprecise, overt communication makes it possible to transmit at very little cost contents as rich and precise as one wants.

The role of language in inferential communication is to provide the communicator with evidence, as exact and complex as she wishes, of the content she wants the hearer to accept. For this, it is not necessary that the utterance encode this content in extenso and unambiguously. Quite commonly, a fragmentary, ambiguous and loose coding is sufficient, in the context, for indicating a complete and unequivocal meaning. In this respect, inferential comprehension is not different from any other cognitive process of non-demonstrative inference that draws relatively reliable conclusions from fragmentary evidence open to multiple interpretations by relying upon both empirical regularities and context.

The main task of pragmatics is to explain how such a process of inference is carried out in the particular case of linguistic communication: what empirical regularities guide the process? How are the linguistic properties of the utterance, on the one hand, and contextual information on the other, put to use? Although different pragmatic theories (e.g. Ducrot, Grice, Levinson, Sperber & Wilson) give different answers to these questions, they agree on the two basic considerations: comprehension is inferential, and, by drawing on both the sentence meaning and the context, it aims at discovering the meaning intended by the speaker.

One sees that the classical code model and the inferential model developed by pragmatics assign different functions to language in linguistic communication. To different functions there should correspond, in the species’ history, different selective pressures and hence different hypotheses regarding the biological evolution of language. Yet, whether it is because, in practice, they accept the code model (e.g. Pinker, 1994, ch. 7), or because they consider the evolution of language without worrying about its specifically linguistic properties (e.g. Dunbar 1996), theorists of the evolution of language have not given much of a role to the pragmatic dimension of language (Dessalles 2000 is an exception), and have considered even less the precise role of communicational processes in linguistic communication.

The Evolution of Language and Two Models of Linguistic Communication
Coded communication functions best when interlocutors share exactly the same code. Any difference between the communicator’s code and that of the hearer is, on the other hand, a source of possible error in the communication process. Under these conditions, a mutation affecting an individual’s language faculty places her at the risk of internalizing a code that is different from that of her conspecifics on the basis of the same linguistic data. This mismatch of codes would be detrimental to the individual’s ability to communicate. It would be counter-adaptive.

More generally, since a code must be shared by a population in order to be advantageous, evolution cannot easily “experiment” with modifications whose anyhow low chance of being advantageous could not verified until the modification was sufficiently widespread. The most plausible modifications are additions of new signals to the code (for example, a signal of alarm for a new species of predators in the environment)—additions that do not modify the structure of the pre-existing code. The very modest size of codes in animal communication suggests that these additions are themselves quite rare. Indeed, animal communication codes which, unlike human languages, really function according to the code model, are typically small and highly stable within a given species. The great majority of them involve no learning, and when learning is involved, as in the case of songbirds, it usually concerns only a single signal that must be learned since it serves for distinguishing between local populations of the same species.

In the case of inferential communication, the situation is quite different. The success of inferential communication does not require that the communicator and the audience have the same semantic representation of the utterance. It suffices that the utterance, however they may represent it, be seen as evidence for the same conclusion. Take, for example, the following trivial dialogue:

Pierre: I’m beat!

Marie: Ok, let’s go back home.

It is of little importance whether the meaning that Pierre and Marie associate with the word “beat” is the same. It may be that, for Pierre, “beat” means an extreme fatigue, while for Marie, “beat” is simply a synonym of “tired”. In any event, Pierre says, “I’m beat,” not in order to indicate a degree of fatigue that this term might encode, but in order to indicate contextually both his wish to return home and the reason for it, namely his fatigue. The level of fatigue that may justify one’s desire to return home depends on the situation: it is not the same at a party among friends, while taking a stroll, or at work. In Pierre’s utterance, then, “beat” indicates the level of fatigue which, in the situation of the utterance, is relevant in that it justifies Pierre’s wish. It is not necessary that the codes between interlocutors be identical; nor is it sufficient. Consider the following dialogue:

Pierre: Can you fix my watch?

Watchmaker: That will take some time.

The semantics of “will take some time” is trivial (or in any case, let us suppose that it is, and in the same manner, for Pierre and the watchmaker): everything that has non-zero duration takes time. Yet, in uttering this truism, the watchmaker sets Pierre along the way to a relevant interpretation. It is indeed a matter of time, and repairing the watch will take a certain amount of time to which it is relevant to draw Pierre’s attention. If Pierre expects that the time for repair will be at least one week, he will understand “It will take some time” as meaning that the repair will take several weeks. If the watchmaker, for his part, thinks that Pierre expects the repair to be done the same day, he will express himself as he did in order to say that the repair will be a matter of days rather than hours. That the words “to take”, “some” and “time” have the same meaning in their lexicon does not protect them from the possibility of misunderstanding. According to the inferential model, the near identity of the interlocutors’ codes is not necessary in order for them to best communicate. In these conditions, a mutation affecting the language faculty and causing the mutant’s grammar to diverge from that of her interlocutors is not necessarily detrimental to her ability to communicate. As we will now show, such a mutation may even be advantageous.

In particular, a language faculty leading to the internalization of a grammar that attributes more structure to utterances than they superficially realize (one that, for example, projects onto them unexpressed constituents) could facilitate inferential comprehension. Imagine a proto-language having only word-size sound-meaning pairs, without any syntactic structure. The word “drink” in this proto-language designates the action of drinking and nothing else (it is not, unlike the word “drink” in English, a two-place predicate); the word “water” designates the substance and nothing else, and so on. With such a limited code, a hearer’s decoding of the meaning associated with the word pronounced by the speaker would not suffice to assure communication between them. The hearer who associates with the utterance “water” the concept of water is not thereby informed of anything whatsoever. Even a concatenation of expressions in such a language, for example, “drink water”, would not be decoded as we spontaneously tend to do on the basis of our comprehension of English. “Drink water” does not denote, in this proto-language, the action of drinking water. One only has two concepts, that of drinking and that of water, which are activated without being semantically linked. The mental activation of one or several concepts having no semantic linkage between them does not denote a state of affairs nor an action associating these two concepts; and it expresses even less a belief or desire.

In these conditions, such a proto-language could be of use only to beings capable of inferential communication. For such individuals, activation by decoding, even of only a single concept, could easily provide them with evidence sufficient for reconstructing a full-fledge meaning, the speaker’s meaning. Imagine two speakers of this proto-language, let us call them Pierre and Marie, walking in the desert. Pierre points to the horizon and utters, “water”. Marie correctly infers from this that he means something like, There is water over there. Just when they reach the water hole, Pierre, exhausted, collapses and mutters, “water”. Mary correctly infers that he means something like, give me some water. With the signals of animal communication—communication that is fully coded—such a range of interpretive constructions in not possible.

Imagine now that Marie was infact a mutant whose language faculty, more complex than that of her fellow creatures, had allowed her as a child to analyze the words of the proto-language that she was in the process of acquiring, either as arguments or as one- or two-place predicates. She had thus categorized “drink” as a two-place predicate, “water” as an argument, and so on. When Marie the mutant hears parched Pierre mutter, “water,” what is activated in her mind is not only the concept of water, but a syntactic structure with an unexpressed predicate capable of taking water as an argument. Her decoding thus goes beyond what was in fact encoded by Pierre. He is not a mutant and therefore expresses himself in the rudimentary language of their community, without mentally adding to it an underlying syntactic structure. This mismatch between Pierre and Marie’s representation of the utterance is not, however, detrimental to communication. Even if she weren’t a mutant, Marie would have had to mentally (but not linguistically) represent, in order to interpret what Pierre meant, not only water but also the action that had water as an object. Marie the mutant is immediately set along the right path thanks to the syntactic structure she falsely, though usefully, attributes to Pierre’s utterance. When she speaks, Marie the mutant encodes, by means of signals that are homonymous to those of her community, not only atomic concepts but also predicate-argument structures. When she says, “water”, her utterance also encodes the unexpressed place-holder of a predicate for which “water” would be the argument. When she says “drink”, her utterance encodes the unexpressed place-holder of the two arguments of “drink”. When she says “drink water”, her utterance encodes not only the two concepts drink and water, but also the complex concept drink some water (plus the unexpressed place-holder of the argument-subject of “drink”). Marie’s interlocutors do not recognize these underlying structures in her utterances, but they arrive at the intended interpretations all the same by a linguistically less prepared inferential path.

Now, if Marie is a second-generation mutant, having among her interlocutors brothers and sisters who are also mutants who therefore speak and comprehend as she does, then she and her co-mutants communicate more effectively than the other members of their community. They communicate, in fact, by means of a language whose utterances, phonologically identical to those of the non-mutants’ language, are syntactically and semantically more complex and hence easier to deal with pragmatically. In the language of these mutants, new linguistic signs may emerge and stabilize by a process of grammaticalization that is inaccessible to non-mutants. For example, pronouns could come to take the place of unspecified arguments.

This imaginary example illustrates the way in which a more advanced language faculty, which leads individuals possessing it to internalize a code that is richer than that of their community, may emerge and evolve. It only occurs this way in a system of inferential communication.

In a system of code-based communication, every departure from the common grammar will be disadvantageous or at best neutral, but it will never be advantageous. These considerations apply to all possible stages of the evolution of the language faculty as well as to its initial emergence. Being disposed to treating uncoded communicational behavior as a coded signal may facilitate inferential comprehension of the communicator’s intentions and lead to the stabilization of this kind of behavior as a signal.

Conclusions
The human mind is characterized by two cognitive abilities having no real equivalent in other species on Earth: language and naïve psychology, that is, the ability to represent the mental states of others. We have suggested here that it is because of the interaction of these two abilities that human communication was able to develop and acquire its incomparable power (cf. Origgi 2001, Origgi & Sperber 2000, Sperber 2000). From a pragmatics perspective, it is quite clear that the language faculty and human languages, with their richness and flaws, are only adaptive in a species that is already capable of naïve psychology and inferential communication. The relatively rapid evolution of languages themselves and their lack of homogeneity within one and the same linguistic community—these two aspects being associated—can only be adequately explained if the function of language in communication is to provide evidence of the speaker’s meaning and not to encode it. [color=blue]In these conditions, the study of the evolution of language must be closely associated to that of the evolution of naïve psychology. Likewise, the study of the evolution of languages must systematically take into account their pragmatic dimension.

(J Dogs' comment: Ergo scambaiting exists in the "house of language" to use Wittgenstein's phrase. In scambaiting the lads use language to create mental representations of trunkboxes full of money. The victims who buy these fictions are reverting to a naive, pre-verbal, and maladaptive psychology, and one that might as well believe in Santa Claus!)
References
Baron-Cohen, S. ; Tager-Flusberg, H. ; Cohen, D. J. (2000) Understanding Other Minds, Second edition, New York, Oxford University Press.

Byrne, R. Whiten, A. (eds. ) (1988) Machiavellian Intelligence : Social Expertise and Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes and Humans, Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Dessalles, J-L. (2000) Aux origines du langage. Une histoire naturelle de la parole, Paris, Hermès.

Ducrot, O. (1972) Dire et ne pas dire, Paris, Hermann.

Dunbar, R. I. M. (1996) Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language, London, Faber & Faber.

Grice, P. (1957) “Meaning”, Philosophical Review, 66 : 377-88.

Grice, P. (1992) Studies in the Ways of Words, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press.

Levinson, S.C. (1983) Pragmatics, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Origgi, G. (2001) “Interpretare il linguaggio e interpretare gli altri : una o due teorie?” Sistemi Intelligenti, XIII : 171-188.

Origgi, G. ; Sperber, D. (2000) “ Evolution, communication and the proper function of language” in P. Carruthers, A. Chamberlain (eds.) Evolution and the Human Mind, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press : 140-169.

Pinker, S. (1994) The Language Instinct, New York, Penguin.

Sperber, D. (2000) “Metarepresentations in an Evolutionary Perspective” in D. Sperber (ed.) Metarepresentations, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.

Sperber, D. ; Wilson, D. (1986), Relevance, Communication et Cognition Basil Blackwell.
Towards an explanation of the evolution of language (1 reply)
Brinck Ingar, 25-Apr-04 21:30 UT
Comment on Origgi and Sperber: Context and inference are ubiquitous (1 reply)
Tecumseh Fitch, 25-Apr-04 15:25 UT
Examining the Assumptions of an Evolutionary “Just So” Story. (1 reply)
Michael Arbib, 24-Apr-04 19:13 UT
Two Aspects of Linguistic Communication (1 reply)
Michael Arbib, 24-Apr-04 19:08 UT
Not quite satisfied yet (1 reply)
Anne Reboul, 23-Apr-04 13:49 UT
Proto inferential communication? (1 reply)
Peter Ford Dominey, 20-Apr-04 15:39 UT
Language and naive psychology in ontogeny (1 reply)
Gil Diesendruck, 18-Apr-04 13:40 UT
Animal communication and human communication (1 reply)
Anne Reboul, 14-Apr-04 16:04 UT
More syntax, less inference
Jean-Louis Dessalles
14-Apr-04 12:48 UT

In their paper, Gloria Origgi and Dan Sperber suggest that various aspects of the language faculty, like the ability to form predicates and to express them through syntax, developed to influence others’ mental states, thus creating an efficient communication system that relies on inferential capacities. I would like to question the plausibility of this scenario.
The authors assume that inferential communication presupposes the ability to represent the mental states of others, and that syntactic language is an improvement because it allows for more inferencing, as when arguments are left unspecified in a predicate. These two statements aren’t obvious.

Contrary to what the authors seem to suggest, protolanguage, as defined by Bickerton (1990), heavily relies on inference to be intelligible to hearers. Proto-utterances like ‘hole--water’ or ‘house--fire’ may mean that there is a leak in the water tank or that there is a fireplace in that house. Their interpretation requires that the context strongly constrain the universe of possible inferences. In this respect, the advent of cognitive predicates and of linguistic syntax considerably limits the need for inferential interpretation.

The authors are right to say that human communication is not a word for word translation between ostensible signs and internal meanings. But I doubt that we are the first species to enjoy inferential communication. Even a mere alarm call is context-sensitive and requires interpretation. If protolanguage has ever been used by some homo species, it must have been to refer to proximal situations, where the context could channel the diversity of possible inferences that were available to these ancestors.

I strongly support the authors’ concern to look at the evolution of language at the pragmatic level. From that perspective, the advent of the ability to form predicates, and the correlative advent of syntactic abilities, should indeed be seen as a qualitative change. However, rather than seeing there some kind of evolutionary "progress" due to increased inferential power, I proposed elsewhere (Dessalles 1998, 2000a, 2000b) that they fulfilled a new function, argumentation, that emerged as a way to detect liars.

References

Bickerton, D. (1990). Language and species. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. Dessalles, J-L. (1998). "Altruism, status, and the origin of relevance". In J. R. Hurford, M. Studdert-Kennedy & C. Knight (Eds), Approaches to the Evolution of Language - Social and Cognitive Bases. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 130-147. http://www.enst.fr/~jld/papiers/pap.evol/96122602.ps.gz Dessalles, J-L. (2000). Aux origines du langage - Une histoire naturelle de la parole. Paris : Hermès. http://www.enst.fr/~jld/papiers/pap.evol/99111703.html Dessalles, J-L. (2000). "Two stages in the evolution of language use". In J-L. Dessalles & L. Ghadakpour (Eds), Proceedings of the Third Conference on the Evolution of Language. Paris : E.N.S.T. 2000-S-002. http://www.enst.fr/~jld/papiers/pap.evol/00012401.html


1 reply to More syntax, less inference:

Reply to Jean-Louis
Dan Sperber
15-Apr-04 16:46 UT

The title of Jean-Louis’ comment is justified by a remark he makes in passing: “the advent of cognitive predicates and of linguistic syntax considerably limits the need for inferential interpretation.” This may be true if you compare the amount of inference involved in interpreting the same message (e.g. that the hearer should pour some water on the head the speaker) expressed in two version, one, say, proto-linguistically ("water!"), the other with the full power of modern-human languages ("Please, could you pour some water on my head"). Both involve inferences, but not the same ones and the linguistic sentential expression constrains more its interpretation. However, thanks to the power of their languages, modern humans communicate much more information and much more complex information than they did their Bickertonian ancestors. Therefore the inferential load involved in human communication is likely to be much higher, just because communication, which is still inferential, is much, much richer.
Apart from this particular point, Jean-Louis expresses two disagreements, one regarding the role of inference in communication in general, the other regarding the role of syntax in inferential communication. Only the second is a genuine disagreement. The first one is more of a misunderstanding.

We borrowed the phrase “inferential communication” from Sperber & Wilson Relevance: Communication and Cognition 1986/1995. Inferential communication--or to be more technical “ostensive-inferential communication”--refers to a form of communication where the communicator presents evidence of her intention to inform her addressee of something, and where the addressee infers this intention on the basis of this evidence and the context. This inference could be seen as a form of “inference to the best explanation,” where the best explanation is a psychological one: a communicative action is explained, as are actions generally, by attributing an intention to the agent.

Of course, there are inferences drawing on the context involved in some forms of communication other than ‘inferential communication’ proper. To give but one example, the content conveyed by a bee dance is contextually dependent on the position of the Sun in the sky. We agree with Jean-Louis that utterances in a Bickertonian proto-language spoken by our ancestors had to be inferentially understood. We also agree that the interpretation of these utterances “require[d] that the context strongly constrain the universe of possible inferences.” However, this kind or contextual restriction is always relative to a given interpretation algorithm or heuristic. The position of the Sun restricts the interpretation of a given bee dance to a single possibility, but only because bees are endowed with the appropriate algorithm to make use of this contextual datum. Our claim is that the inference heuristic involved in the case of human ancestors was a form of mindreading heuristic about the intention of the communicator, i.e. that proto-linguistic communication was a case of inferential communication proper. I don’t know whether Jean-Louis agrees with this, but if he does not, it would be useful if he indicated what alternative he favours. Again, saying that interpretation was contextually restricted is describing the problem, not the solution.

There seems to be a clearer disagreement regarding the emergence of a language faculty and of a rich and productive syntax. Yes, we claimed that it evolved because it gave a communicative advantage (or a series of such advantages along the way, if the evolution was, as seems plausible, in steps) to people already capable of inferential communication, making their communication easier and incomparably richer. (Jean-Louis speaks of “some kind of evolutionary ‘progress’” with “progress” in scare quotes to remind us, rightly, that evolution is not necessarily towards progress in any sense, but surely it often is, and for obvious reasons, no?). Jean-Louis favours what he sees as an alternative explanation, namely that these new features “fulfilled a new function, argumentation, that emerged as a way to detect liars.” Jean-Louis and myself (Sperber 2000, 2001) have independently developed comparable views on the evolution of argumentation, but whereas he sees it as the basis of the emergence of syntactically rich languages, I see the argumentative function as driving only some aspects of language and language use.

Sperber, D. (2000) Metarepresentations in an evolutionary perspective . In Dan Sperber (ed.) Metarepresentations: A Multidisciplinary Perspective. (New York: Oxford University Press). 117-137. Sperber, D. (2001) An Evolutionary perspective on testimony and argumentation. Philosophical Topics. 29. 401-413

(Both texts are available at www.dan.sperber.com)


© 2004 interdisciplines.


Last edited by Guest on Sun May 16, 2004 1:36 am; edited 7 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 1:24 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Ulysses and others:

I think the phrase goes... No one likes being sold as much as a salesman. The idea is that salesmen must be deceptive, greedy, optimistic, or ? Any of those characteristics presumably makes them vulnerable to someone else.

Here is a fun one that someone should think about:

You can't cheat an honest man.

If we really wanted to train the mugus. We should all pretend to be intensely honest characters and show them how hard it is to get money from honest people. We could train them to avoid honest people and concentrate on fleecing other criminals.

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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 2:42 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Three in a row... my apologies...

This to J Dog and others:
Quote:
Coded communication functions best when interlocutors share exactly the same code. Any difference between the communicator’s code and that of the hearer is, on the other hand, a source of possible error in the communication process. Under these conditions, a mutation affecting an individual’s language faculty places her at the risk of internalizing a code that is different from that of her conspecifics on the basis of the same linguistic data. This mismatch of codes would be detrimental to the individual’s ability to communicate. It would be counter-adaptive.


I want to speak to this point specifically. If we teach the mugus better English, are we helping them? The answer here seems to be YES. If we teach the mugus to understand what psychological buttons to push to get favorable responses, are we helping them? The answer appears to be YES. We are helping them to communicate technically and "implicationally" in terms of pushing their readers/victims to draw inferences about the scammers.

If we reinforce their WRONG CODES or give them false ideas, then we are teaching them to present themselves incorrectly. If we respond positively to them and let them know that in the United States, the correct way to begin a letter is, since fiscal year 2004, Dear Motherflocker: ..., then we are "setting them up the bomb". We are putting some nasty bit of dna into their mix. If we reinforce that through group effort, then we can culture that message to the point where some major distribution of spam will contain the opening line: Dear Motherflocker, this message may come as a surprise to you....

Then let me speak to automation.
http://www.angelfire.com/trek/amanda/botlist.htm
I have thought that use of bots along wth voicemail messages could automate mass baiting and decrease baiting effort while increasing lad effort and wasted time. However,

it has occurred to me that the lad patois is a defense. The bad spelling confounds bots. The bad spelling allows inferential communication while stopping bot response to it. I don't know if this was intended or the result of selection, but the lads have got themselves into this situation:


They use crummy English and rely on victims to interpret their needs AND overlook the inconsistent portrayal of a banker unable to use anything but WU or a lawyer lacking basic skills.
They can only appeal to less educated people, who are unlikely to be able to command the resources necessary for the scam.


If they try to go upscale, say by improving the English, they face the initial costs of say... proofreading... and that inherent risk. Then they also face an attack of bots (a sufficiently deceptive bot program would end our baiting escapades forever.. mugus would be deluged with plausible leads that would NEVER pay off). Finally, as they work through the script, they will have to have real time "good English". Costs and effort would rise geometrically. Of course, they will then have to find someone gullible enough to fall for it, BUT skilled and savvy enough to earn the money. There is a needle in a haystack for you.

Personally I think you can stick a fork in 419 as a big crime problem. Mugus seem to have this image of idly rich millionaires sitting around smoking cigars in clubs dreaming of plundering Africa. People who work for a living are not likely to fall for this scam, nor is anyone else these days.

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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 4:26 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
it has occurred to me that the lad patois is a defense. The bad spelling confounds bots. The bad spelling allows inferential communication while stopping bot response to it. I don't know if this was intended or the result of selection, but the lads have got themselves into this situation:


They use crummy English and rely on victims to interpret their needs AND overlook the inconsistent portrayal of a banker unable to use anything but WU or a lawyer lacking basic skills. They can only appeal to less educated people, who are unlikely to be able to command the resources necessary for the scam.


Yes, but the AI would teach itself to weaken the reductive laddish patois, which is built on the basic command: Send Money by WU.

The bots would build a glossary of ladspeak with the help of humans. Then there would be simple loops:

5> If: Send Money by WU

10> Then: goto subroutines 15-115 as per weighting of lad repsonse:

15> If lad is neutral: Please clarify details, etc.

20> If lad is greedty: X$ is too much money! Please I will only pay Y$

25> If lad is Asshole:> [The Victim] has died. I am her attorney, please explain this to me all over again...


Each laddish response would be graded to give it an emotional weight so as to allow the JDOG X to articulate a naive psychology and iterate into more sophisticated versions.

Chaos theory would also emerge as we would see the branching fractals of a scam appear and then unpredictably branch in go/no go lad decisions, i.e. a given lad twigs in the region at 35> in defiance of the AI psychology. An automated and sincere apology will generally resolve chaos and allow the lad to believe that the money is on the way (the so-called "WU Response").

If anything, I keep Coleridge's axiom always in the forefront of my scambaits: Fiction is the willing suspension of disbelief. As a corollary to Coleridge, one could even argue that the willing suspension of disbelief is made at a subconscious level, and what is the subconcious in 419 victims and even the lads? It is denial exerted preconsciously, and hence mechanistically, in the absence of rationality, i.e. SHIT HAPPENS. Yes, but only because people are asleep at the wheel. Thus, a robot could do our work due to human irrationality and insanity: Victims really believe that the money is in trunkboxes and some lads believe the money is at the WU office.


Last edited by Guest on Sun May 16, 2004 4:33 am; edited 1 time in total
Dont_B_A_BaiterHater
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 4:30 am Reply with quoteBack to top

"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't WU that."
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Buta Shi
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 12:11 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Right on J dog. You would have to have a pretty fuzzy system to handle the spelling variations I have seen, but I guess such a system would be able to automate something. A new thread might address whether such a system would "take all the fun out of this" for baiters. Sad

Here is a freebie idea for you. Wish I had the time to do it, because it might be fun. Set up a bot to handle text replies and a voice mail with a generic message, " Hello, this is Featherman..... Yeah...... Sorry, I could not hear that. .... Sorry, still can't hear. Please send me another e-mail." That would take things to the next level. The next e-mail could tell him to use a different number with a different result. A bot that takes a mugu two or three rounds into the bait would be a "low-cost" method of wasting the time of a hundred mugus at once, even if you could not do it over the long term. Poor Africans. Wink Made obsolete by capital again and again.

And you are right about the Coleridge thing. One aspect of the baits that jumps out at me is is all this "sorry, my mother died" or "sorry, there was a power outage" or "sorry, I could only do this or that".... excuses, excuses. They are all accepted out of hand. I mean, in my line of work, there ARE no excuses. No explanations. You do it right or you are out substantial amounts of money and effort. In these scams, the greed of victims and scammers alike must BLIND them to how ridiculous they are. Laughing

No wonder the baiters come off sounding like God sometimes... the baiters are the only ones who know the truth.

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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 1:18 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
If anything, I keep Coleridge's axiom always in the forefront of my scambaits: Fiction is the willing suspension of disbelief. As a corollary to Coleridge, one could even argue that the willing suspension of disbelief is made at a subconscious level, and what is the subconcious in 419 victims and even the lads?


Funny that, I keep finding myself 'method acting' while writing what I hope is insidious nonsense.

I've a nasty feeling that my correspondents are doing the same.
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 5:40 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I love the idea of a bot automatically responding to scam messages.

I think, though, that with some combined effort we could get a fairly sophisticated e-mail responder text generator that generates unique messages.

Let me explain. Let's say we are setting up a e-mail responder. The first order of business, of course, would be a greetings. We could start all our replies as "Dear Scammer Name", but we could also be a little bit more sophisticated, and have the text generator program randomly choose from several salutations, such as:

My Dear. Mr. Scammer
Greetings, Mr. Scammer.
Mr. Scammer, esquire
My Dear Barrister Scammer;
Greetings, Attorney Scammer;

We can do the same thing for the first sentence: e-mail text generator will randomly choose from the following;

1) I was somewhat surprised to receive your e-mail today.

2) Your e-mail came as a complete surprise to me.

3) I'm very excited by your e-mail, which I must admit came quite by surprise.

4) I received your extremely interesting e-mail proposal today.

As I have detailed elsewhere, (Valley Girl Translator post in "Helps" section") it would probably be good to also have an option to dialectize the options, for example, to redneck.

1) ah was somewhut surprised t'receive yer e-mail today.

2) Yer e-mail came as a complete surprise t'me.

3) ah's mighty excited by yer e-mail, which ah muss admit came quite by surprise.

4) ah received yer extremely interestin' e-mail proposal today.

---------------------------------------------------------

The next line of text could be randomly selected from these options;

1) The story you present in your e-mail is quite sad.

2) The events that you describe are very tragic.

3) I feel sorry for the individuals that you describe in e-mail message.

4) The events that have happened are quite unfortunate.

And, of course, lets allow a cockney option:

1) The story yer present in yor e-mail is quite sad.

2) The events that yer describe are right tragic.

3) I feel sorry for the individuals that yer describe in e-mail message. Cor blimey guv, would I lie to you?

4) The bleedin' events that 'ave 'appened are quite unfortunate.

=========================================

The e-mail text generator, one time would generate an e-mail like this;

My Dear Barrister Scammer;

I'm very excited by your e-mail, which I must admit came quite by surprise. The bleedin' events that 'ave 'appened are quite unfortunate.

And, of course, on and on and on. . . . . .

One option that would be necessary would be to allow a certain personna to be selected, such as

1. Recently widowed old lady with a nice insurance settlement.

2. Minister of a church somewhere in the south

3. Brothel operator

4. Computer geek who never goes outside.

and appropriate responses could be generated for each individual persona.

A separate text generator would be necessary for each stage of the bait -- and would have various options, such as 1) bitch slapping, 2) apologize for the delay, 3) explain that a fire burned down the WU office, 3) you wound up in the hospital, etc.

=====================================

If we had a program like this, we could reply several times to each scam address we come across (with different return e-mails, of course) and have the scammer replying to three or four different bait letters.

Just my thoughts --
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 5:51 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
Funny that, I keep finding myself 'method acting' while writing what I hope is insidious nonsense.


But method acting, and I mean good method acting, involves artifice and artifice requires a willing suspension of disbelief. The tears have to be felt even if they are an artifice and a contrivance.

Our AI could have a fuzzy naive psychology/language whose empathy is derived from genetic algorithms. The tears would be a method to induce a mental representation in the mind of the lad, namely that now is the time for the lad to strike. Hence the AI could manipulate with method acting, but only if we told it to. The machine would laugh at how stupid the lads were, but we would tell it to go along with the joke, for in AI we find that fiction is the willing suspension of logic.
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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2004 9:44 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
If we reinforce their WRONG CODES or give them false ideas, then we are teaching them to present themselves incorrectly. If we respond positively to them and let them know that in the United States, the correct way to begin a letter is, since fiscal year 2004, Dear Motherflocker: ..., then we are "setting them up the bomb".


Sporzl? Laughing

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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 12:41 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I personally wouldn't bother with phonetic dialectising. People write the same english regardless of how they say it. I'd concentrate on dropping in expressions and words that will hinder our lads in future

"I promise to perfidiously execute your instructions"

"This opportunity sounds a bit too tweal to be true"

"That's terrible, you've really suffered some right grommets, haven't you?

"This opportunity sounds splendiforous"

"Are you shore no wurzle's will crop up in this transliteration of funds?"

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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 1:06 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Stop making fun of president Bush! Its not his fault! He's just an innocent lackey!

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Buta Shi
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 1:36 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I propose a contest.

Let's all agree each on a pet phrase (I suggest three or four words) that is nonsense, but put in a real grammatical context. All participants in the contest will each have their own. The winner is the owner of the FIRST PHRASE WHICH OCCURS >>IN THE WILD<< (like say in a scam letter, probably not a reply). And the prize is... I dunno... a trophy from the other participants. (mugu with loser's name on card).

Example: I reply to a mugu with

Thank you for replying, peace to your uncle. I want to accept your offer of....

The mugu will read that and internalize it and send it around and the more a person uses it, the more it will spread. And everyone will know that PEACE TO YOUR UNCLE is Buta's phrase. We could keep a list of phrases somewhere so that anyone sighting one of them in the wild could notify. Laughing

I guess the potential for cheating is high, but it might be fun to see how quickly the mugus internalize gibberish..

umm.. some examples to critique:

as fire to Prometheus
peace to your uncle
cabinets are bursting
running flurry hurry

engendered in a bender (I might use this one)
endangered in a manger (he-he.... dibs on this one too)
mutually severable gain (this sounds good... but think about it)

What is that Star Trek nonsense phrase... "and the walls came down"??

I would advise scanning for these in new crops of letters coming out.

Would this be a fun game? I dub the game


TANEMAKU


or "sowing seeds" in Japanese.

You know..... "language is a virus from outer space". What a great author he was... sniffle Crying or Very sad .

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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 3:22 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
"I promise to perfidiously execute your instructions"

"This opportunity sounds a bit too tweal to be true"

"That's terrible, you've really suffered some right grommets, haven't you?

"This opportunity sounds splendiforous"

"Are you shore no wurzle's will crop up in this transliteration of funds?"


You guys are genius!!


This sounds like an interesting project. If I can find the time, I can write a text generator program in Visual Basic incorporating statements like this and randomizing them on each run. If we can get several hundred statements of this type the text generator could prove useful in speeding scambait replies.

Like I said, I'll try to start a program to do this. If you have any statements to add such as "This opportunity sounds splendiforous" -- let me now. If you want, you can send them via PM to keep our guest mugus from being in the know on our latest dastardly deed.

What would be great is if we could get a good enough text generator program to distribute free to groups that like to cause widespread mischief -- such as college students. If every time a scammer send out a mass e-mail he had 500 replies, of which 498 were bogus, the 419 enterprise would come grinding to a halt.
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Wright B Hindyou
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 4:09 am Reply with quoteBack to top

J. Dog, Buta Shi, on the technical side, how does identifying Lad mails differ from identifying spam?

Because that problem has already been addressed in a way that is easily implemented and customizable.

www.paulgraham.com/spam.html

I have implemented Graham's ideas (for a rather different purpose) with good results.

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Buta Shi
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PostPosted: Mon May 17, 2004 4:40 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Avenger and others:

Whether or not you want to play TANEMAKU with me, be advised that this automated reply idea is a cannon. J-Dog has already said that he would not find much fun in doing this. It allows no characters or ... er... manipulation. I guess you are right that we could stop the menace by increasing the noise, but ... well...

would this drive them back to using faxes?
would it make baiting by others more difficult?

Maybe those are minor concerns.

Before you start a trial system, here are some vulnerabilities/obstacles. Probably you have already thought of these:

**limited number of email addresses to send replies from
**automated sending from multiple email addresses
**replies reaching the mugu in a batch
**limited number of greetings/ phrases.
**use of a script may only be good for the first reply or two; then you will have to go off-script with 42 mugus. Using the mugu cannon, you may not know what the precedent conversations were..

I suggest ramping up, just like any large enterprise. You will find the bugs and the next step will always be clear.

Personally, I will go low tech and use some simple randomizers to give me leverage in dealing with many mugus at once. It would involve a lot of dragging and dropping of text on a --yawn-- desktop. It is a "semi-automatic" solution rather than a machine gun, but I will be able to keep a history of the script and follow through on the ones that stay on for the ride.

Here is why the game is fun... the most successful methods will give you proof in the pudding. If your replies are sniffed out as bot generated, then they may get ignored. It is possible that J-Dog, in a socialite persona may get more emulation then we would. I guess the new trophy here is not a picture, but ....

IMITATION,

the sincerest form of flattery.



Go gettem Avenger. More power to you. Someone announce the start of the game and lets get our expression lists together.

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