Topics in Cognitive Science 6 (3):545-558 (2014)

Abstract
The recent trend in cognitive robotics experiments on language learning, symbol grounding, and related issues necessarily entails a reduction of sensorimotor aspects from those provided by a human body to those that can be realized in machines, limiting robotic models of symbol grounding in this respect. Here, we argue that there is a need for modeling work in this domain to explicitly take into account the richer human embodiment even for concrete concepts that prima facie relate merely to simple actions, and illustrate this using distributional methods from computational linguistics which allow us to investigate grounding of concepts based on their actual usage. We also argue that these techniques have applications in theories and models of grounding, particularly in machine implementations thereof. Similarly, considering the grounding of concepts in human terms may be of benefit to future work in computational linguistics, in particular in going beyond “grounding” concepts in the textual modality alone. Overall, we highlight the overall potential for a mutually beneficial relationship between the two fields
Keywords Machine language understanding  Distributional semantics  Concept grounding  Embodiment
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DOI 10.1111/tops.12093
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