A Common Language for Us All:

Are Humans Like Computers?

By Auren Hoffman auren@bridgepath.com

Computers always try to imitate human behavior. But they may be imitating us more than we think.

Higher level computer languages like C++, FORTRAN, JAVA, and others are compiled to run on computers. They are written in a language that is understandable to humans using words like "IF" and "FOR" and "LOOP". For a computer to run a program written in C++, or "understand" C++, the program must first be compiled into a language native to the computer.

When a program gets compiled, it gets transformed into assembly language which has no words and then into machine language which is just 1's and 0's. Thus a computer can compile a foreign language into its native language.

Machine language is the basis for all computers of a certain type. It spells out exactly what a machine is supposed to do and how to do it. The millions and trillions of 1's and 0's mean little to most humans but are the only language that many computers can interpret.

The same might be true of humans. Humans around the globe speak thousands of different languages. If you are reading this article, you probably speak English and might think in English, but others think in Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, ... -- you get the picture.

But our understanding of languages like English and others still translate into similar actions. For instance if someone says "jump" in English -- I know to jump. In France, you might get the same reaction by saying "saute" and in Germany one might say "sprung." They all mean the same thing.

Language, for humans, elicits a reaction. When someone says "jump," you brain translates this into a more native language that it can understand. English, in a sense, gets "compiled" by your brain into this inherent code. That native language might not be in words but could be in electric impulses or vibrations. But everyone, including Americans, French, and Germans all inherently understand the phrase in the same way.

Maybe there is some sort of machine code for humans that everyone understands. A universal language that could be translated to everyone in the world. In the UN, instead of world leaders wearing headphones with translations, one language could be translated that everyone could comprehend.

With the advent of technology, that old thought of a universal language might not be so far behind.

Auren Hoffman hosts the Summation (http://www.summation.net) web center and works for BridgePath (http://www.bridgepath.com).