I had a brief chat with my linguistics professor today about the feasablility of teaching a robot to speak like a human being.
He said that while many scientists and linguists have attempted to teach bots to speak, they have, until now at least, failed to do it successfully.
He explained that this is because there is certain intuitive knowledge that humans use when we are speaking. There are some things that we know, due to our life experience that enhances our communication skills.
This is without even mentioning the emotional factor that affects the way humans express themselves and interact with others.
One example the professor gave was the lame attempt that have taken place to programme computers to translate texts from one language into another. If you have ever done this on the internet you will know what a complete failure it is. Thus any computer generated translation has to be checked and corrected by a person, therefore defeating the purpose of the task.
What seems apparent to me is that though a bot might possess a complex lexicon (i.e. the store of words in one’s mind), it cannot process meaning in the same way that a human can. The meaning it can derive will merely be some kind of dictionary definition that has no link to concepts in the outside world.