Dilemmata

To make it clear to anybody who still thinks that I fantasize about having solved the "story vs. agency" dilemma - this is not the point. The point is that, by definition, I don't have that particular dilemma. I've reified the system boundary so that the system is the story which includes the client(s)/player(s) as character(s), and any interaction between characters, whether human or virtual, is part of the story. This includes all attempts of the client to "break" the story, and the (potentially infinite) number of cases where the bot simply doesn't understand a word. These are simply moments of "heightend drama" (the basic, but not necessarily the only ones).

Whether the input, or parts of it, are understood or not: the bot always looks at the input and the context to generate an output, and a crucial part of this output is an update of the context. "Context", here, is "the story so far" - the history of the interaction. And this brings us to my dilemma: instead of "story vs. agency", I have "context vs. abstraction".

I start out with one sentence that is my Edge Metaphor (if you missed the discussion where I explained that term, you can catch up here - scroll down to about the middle of the second comment). The Edge Metaphor is a representation of my innermost story problem that is so abstract that it's entirely meaningless when encountered on its own. Then I add potential context. I say "potential" because any response can't really be part of the context defined by a particular client-bot relationship until the client first has said something that made the bot give this response - only then, it becomes part of their (hi)story.

Because humans are likely to respond to utterances of others, the meaning of which they don't understand, with a "wh-question", and because I write in a way that allows the bot to always answer any "wh-question" in context, my bet is that the probalility that the bot will end up making sense to the client will be relatively high. Add to that the fact that, given certain stylistical decisions about how the responses are written, you can treat a lot of inputs as if they where "wh-questions" - for instance, if you don't begin responses to "Why...?" with "Because...", you can also interpret inputs like "You're wrong", "I don't understand", "That's bullshit", etc., as if they were "Why?" -, and you can reveal even more context using that strategy. The goal is writing a text that can seamlessly explain itself. In my more highfalutin moments, I call this "the autopoiesis of meaning".

Of course, there's still a dilemma of sorts, since no matter how much context I provide, I'll never beat the Law of Leaky Abstractions. However, there's a practical reason for why I prefer the "context vs. abstraction" dilemma over the "story vs. agency" dilemma: in the case of the latter, you'll get a system with two interacting variables you have to optimize, and if I'm not grossly mistaken, figuring out what "optimal" is under these conditions is a mathematical impossibility (I think that John von Neumann gave the proof for this, but I can't find the reference any more, so if somebody had a pointer, I'd very much appreciate it). It's like a see-saw consisting of a beam placed over a barrel, with random forces acting on both ends of the beam in random ways - an unstable and unpredictable affair. If, instead, I fix one end of the beam, I only have to deal with one variable, which is much better. My beam might still be too feeble or too rigid to deal with some cases, but in the limit, it should be doing okay. In fact, it looks much closer now to what the Dramatica glossary calls Work - a solvable problem -, versus Dilemma - an unsolvable problem.

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I feel fine.
I know someone will comment on it soon :-) Theatre...
scheuring - 14. Jun, 10:24
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Thanks, Brian,
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Gabe,
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thanks scheuring!
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About five years ago (pre-ProgramD), the "standard"...
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