How can AI and humans communicate better? According to a group of researchers, the answer lies in an Aboriginal language.
In their article "JSwarm: A Jingulu-Inspired Human-AI-Teaming Language for Context-Aware Swarm Guidance" (Abbass et al., Front. Phys., 14 July 2022, Sec. Interdisciplinary Physics), the researchers propose a language ("JSwarm") for communication between humans and an AI agent based on Jingulu, a language spoken by the Jingili people of Australia's Northern Territory .
Jingulu has a number of properties which make it ideal for bridging the gap between humans and AI. Firstly, it has a much freer word order than English, which requires sentences to be written using the "subject-verb-order" structure. (For example, "The attorney filed the patent application" is clear to an English speaker, whereas "filed the attorney the patent application" is not.) As a result, the meaning of a sentence in JSwarm is more robust to changes in word order.
Secondly, verbs in Jingulu are constructed by modifying only three 'primary' verbs ("do"/"be", "go", and "come"). Therefore, JSwarm provides a computationally efficient way of communicating with an AI, but - being rooted in a natural language - remains accessible for human users.
The authors explain the new language using the case of a sheepdog cooperating with a human handler to herd sheep. However, the potential uses of JSwarm are far more extensive. For example, a real-life 'sheepdog' could be a chemical substance to guide a 'herd' of nano-robots treating cancer cells. Alternatively, the 'herd' could be a swarm of autonomous vehicles. Whatever the application, JSwarm remains a remarkable example of the ways in which traditional knowledge can spur technological developments.