Inform, seems to be an implementation of natural language programming. It’s aimed at a very narrow field of work. That work seems to be converting a story into a computer game. I would like to use analogies, but they are programming and AI related. So first I will give you a short history lesson.
While I am exploring the nicer aspects of natural language programming, this technology is extremely dangerous if used in the wrong way. It makes it possible for a machine to listen in on the entire world and understand what is going on. A spy with that power is to be feared!
Historic lesson on AI and machine language potential
In artificial intelligence, we would call this a splinter AI or splinter intelligence. Splinter intelligence was coined after the bar for what we defined as evidence of an AI kept on being raised. Under some old definitions a chess program would be classified an intelligent entity.
Chess programs for example would be considered as splinter intelligences.
Another event in my life was the existence of machine language. Some people today still have to deal with it, but most of us use higher level languages I would assume. Before there were a lot of high level languages around, a person like me who would be introduced to machine language could almost feel a static charge from all the potential it had to become something more.
This feeling of potential for machine language spilled into higher languages. Most people around me who programmed computers would have felt at some point that they would like to invent a new language or modify an existing language. In those days such aspirations were not that far out of reach either. I did something less extreme by carrying around my own library of favourite C++ functions and procedures that I loved to use.
How Inform could be much more and yet will remain limited in scope
Now we get back to Inform, a natural programming language. Well despite the fact that Inform is charged with the potential to be much, much more if people put the research funds into it, it’s a natural language program in my opinion.
Inform 7 is limited to a very narrow field or use in much the same way as a splinter intelligence is limited.
Despite the potential of Inform to be much more than what it is—I can feel its power, just as I did with machine language—Inform will remain limited to a specialized field unless it undergoes some fundamental changes in its focus.
- Inform is a programming language and design system for interactive fiction originally created in 1993 by Graham Nelson.
- Inform 7 (briefly known as Natural Inform)
- Inform 7 is a completely new language based on principles of natural language and a new set of tools based around a book-publishing metaphor.
http://ifcomp.org/: Welcome to IFComp 2010, the competition for short text adventures.
The Inform 7 Handbook via music words.
Inform 7: Emily Shorts interactive story telling.
Brass Lantern: Introducing Inform 7
The official book: Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7.
There is a darker side to natural language programming: “if it can understand what you say, then it could listen in on everyone in the world!” HAL’s Revenge