Smart Cognitive Science
SMART Cognitive Science is an initiative of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam. “We organize lectures, meetings and discussions, offline and online, to highlight the important contributions to cognitive science from traditional humanities disciplines. SMART is an acronym for Speech & language, Music, Art, Reasoning & Thought. Our activitities are organized in close collaboration with the Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam, in which also the Faculties of Science, Medicine, Social Science and Economics & Econometrics participate.”
At the end of the Amsterdam Colloquium, the SMART Cognitive Science initiative organized a debate on the Future of Semantics: Arm Chair Theorizing or Data Fetishism? The panelists were Martin Stokhof, Matthew Stone, Noah Goodman and myself. At least three of us agreed that we need a balance of both. Big data offer priceless new opportunities for linguistic research, but they are no substitute for good theories. The Big Data revolution has forced us to think very carefully about what can and what can’t be learned in a Bayesian way, given realistic assumptions about input and the speed of acquisition. This is an empirical issue that needs to be taken very seriously.