AAAI Publications, 2011 AAAI Fall Symposium Series

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Protocols for Reference Sharing in a Belief Ascription Model of Communication
Yorick Wilks

Last modified: 2011-11-03


The ViewGen model of belief ascription assumes that each agent involved in a conversation has a belief space which includes models of what other parties to the conversation believe. The distinctive notion is that a basic procedure, called belief ascription, allows belief spaces to be amalgamated so as to model the updating and augmentation of belief environments. In this paper we extend the ViewGen model to a more general account of reference phenomena, in particular by the notion of a reachable ascription set (RAS) that links intensional objects across belief environments so as to locate the most heuristically plausible referent at a given point in a conversation. The key notion is the location and attachment of entities that may be under different descriptions, the consequent updating of the system's beliefs about other agents by default, and the role in that process of a speaker's and hearer's protocols that ensure that the choice is the appropriate one. An important characteristic of this model is that each communicator considers nothing beyond his own belief space. A conclusion we shall draw is that traditional binary distinctions in this area (like de dicto/de re and attributive/referential) neither classify the examples effectively nor do they assist in locating referents, whereas the single procedure we suggest does both. We also suggest ways in which this analysis can also illuminate other traditional distinctions such as referential and attributive use. The description here is not on an implemented system with results but a theoretical tool to be implemented within an established dialogue platform (such as Wilks et al. 2011).


Artificial Intelligence; Belief Systems;Dialogue; Natural language Processing; Knowledge Representation

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