From the time of the last post till now I have had full confidence in what I want to post about and create: a mini A.I. database! In theory it seems more than easy to carry out. My idea was that I would use Microsoft Access to create a database that would work side-by-side with form objects. The user would enter information into the form’s text entry box and queries and macros would run themselves to achieve one of the two following goals:
1. Access would translate what the user has entered into a foreign language
2. Access would enter into dialogue with the user
The concept behind the two ideas above came off as very sound and simple. You type “hello”, it types “bonjour”. You type “How are youu [sic]”, something outside the databases records, it types “Please check your spelling; what do you mean?”. The simple framework of having a database collaborating with a form just made simple sense. The thought development led me to thinking, Microsoft Access isn’t a program that works very well with formulas, why it? I casually open Access, look at the Ribbon tabs, groups and commands; the best response that could be sparked in me was, “meh.” Something felt missing, I was disheartened by the shortage of commands. Though the macros and queries had the possibility of meeting my needs, I wasn’t at peace. My next ally: Excel.
Excelling with Information
Excel is notoriously endowed with functions which are capable of automating most things that one would want to do. I felt comfortable that I would have a casual experience using formulas, functions and databases created in Excel to meet my expectations. The stray away from Access did not worry me as the two programs are very capable of interchanging information. The concept of building the database still seems plausible with either, or both, programs. The quick and fast option would be to build the databases in Excel and allow all else to develop on that. If I wanted to use both applications, Access could be used for database stringencies such as normalizations; making the database tables as “correct” as possible. Excel would carry over and handle the actual data processing. As a twist I want to do everything with the aid of Visual Basic for the following reasons:
1. Using standard formulas, functions is boring! I’m honestly beyond it and need a proper challenge. If you sit down for a day you can learn the majority of what you need to know about functions: =function(argument)… boring! Though Access may not bear such a flaccid learning curve, as is with Excel, I still want to develop my own data processing logic.
2. I want to challenge myself with the problem of creating a digital brain (go figure!) that can simulate the thought process of a language translator, and application for dialogue. Inconsistencies in syntax would be analysed and permit me to account for them logically. This logic could be carried over into Access or Excel’s databases to build a more stable databases to work with user inputs.
This is a long term project. It may begin today but I am willing to invest months into its development. As I said in one of my tweets:
I adamantly carry this belief, but it does not deny us the pleasure of learning how communication between man and machine can be built upon using linguistics as a medium. I do truly find it interesting and want to fill a gap I have observed recently. If you go onto YouTube and use “VBA” and “Excel” or “Access” as a search terms you will come across videos relating to the empirical usage in the respective programs, nothing appears showing their potential in the broader scope of the languages. Why not have a database that speaks in the English of Anne Hathaway’s son – Shakespeare?
Why these particular programs would be a great question. A quick answer is because this is an opportunity to extend their usage. It allows for them to be used beyond their immediate expectations and hopefully by doing this I can make my contribution to the language field. Again, with the flexibility of online office suites like Google Docs and Office Web Apps being able to interact with the user online, there is a partial liberation from a proprietary application environment.
So, while we panic on why iPads are so expensive and if, indeed, they will eventually replace textbooks, permit me to dirty the air and conduct this project. This post will be updated as progressions are made. Expect links linking to more detailed iterations of this post, expect to see VB code. But, mostly, expect results.
Giant Killer Squad. 2009. Del Toro Developing DC’s Deadman. [O]. Available:
Accessed: 9 January 2013.