Why is Sanskrit the best language for AI?


Staff member
According to NASA scientist Rick Briggs, Sanskrit is the best language for AI. I want to know how Sanskrit is useful. What's the problem with other languages? Are they really using Sanskrit in AI programming or going to do so? What part of an AI program requires such language?


Staff member
Rick Briggs refers to the difficulty an artificial intelligence would have in detecting the true meaning of words spoken or written in one of our natural languages. Take for example an artificial intelligence attempting to determine the meaning of a sarcastic sentence.

Naturally spoken, the sentence "That's just what I needed today!" can be the expression of very different feelings. In one instance, a happy individual finding an item that had been lost for some time could be excited or cheered up from the event, and exclaim that this moment of triumph was exactly what their day needed to continue to be happy. On the other hand, a disgruntled office employee having a rough day could accidentally worsen his situation by spilling hot coffee on himself, and sarcastically exclaim that this further annoyance was exactly what he needed today. This sentence should in this situation be interpreted as the man expressing that spilling coffee on himself made his bad day worse.

This is one small example explaining the reason linguistic analysis is difficult for artificial intelligence. When this example is spoken, small tonal fluctuations and indicators are extremely difficult for an AI with a microphone to detect accurately; and if the sentence was simply read, without context how would one example be discernible from the other?

Rick Briggs suggests that Sanskrit, an ancient form of communication, is a naturally spoken language with mechanics and grammatical rules that would allow an artificial intelligence to more accurately interpret sentences during linguistic analysis. More accurate linguistic analysis would result in an artificial intelligence being able to respond more accurately. You can read more about Rick Brigg's thoughts on the language here.


Staff member
Adding some to what Christian said. Facts taken from the book, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach Burrhus Frederic Skinner, a psychologist and behaviourist, published his book Verbal Behaviour in 1957. His work contains the detailed account of the behaviourist approach to language learning.

Noam Chomsky later wrote a review on the book, which for some reason became more famous than the book itself. Chomsky has his own theory of Syntactic Structures for this. He even mentioned that the behaviourist theory did not address the notion of creativity in language as it did not explain how a child could understand and make up sentences that he/she has never heard before. His theory based on syntactic models are dated back to Indian linguist Panini (350 B.C.) who was an ancient Sanskrit philologist, grammarian, and a revered scholar.


New member
I have noted what Mr. Briggs has stated, but not studied his reasons.
However, I have been an IT practitioner (programmer, analyst, architect, engineer) for 28 years now and have studied संस्कृत for 25 years.

I have a BSc in Maths and Computer Science and now A-levels in संस्कृत but AI is in no way my specialty field.

My observations are:
1. Artificial Intelligence is a complete misnomer. It has nothing to do with intelligence - it is rather probability and statistical analysis. Be that as it is, for simplicity I shall still refer to it as AI.
2. पाणिनि's grammar requires understanding of the subtle and causal worlds. Modern grammar only deals with the physical (वौखरी) sound and is about the words which are already produced. पाणिनि's system demonstrates how the धातवः undergo modifications from their causal form to their manifest form which is a word.
3. Here is the funny thing - statistical analysis emulates intelligence quite well, so maybe the name is apt after all. In traditional programming, the programmer will give instructions to the computer. The outcomes are all predictable. With AI, a neural network is established and the developer does not program the computer. Instead, using mathematical models, the machine is instructed as to how to look for patterns within the data provided. Any attempt by the programmer to "instruct" in the traditional way will cause unpredictable results.
4. The highly formal rules which पाणिनि has given us can be applied to any walk of life, because these laws are mirrors of the fine laws underpinning all life within the created world. For example, the कारका demonstrate the fundamental roles of all action:
Actor , the one acted on.
The instrument most propitious for the completion of the action
The one to whom the action is dedicated.
That from which the action has arisen
That within which the action takes place.
and then the relationship of a नामरुप to another

So any functional AI would probably require this structure as a basis for behavior.

It is my intention over the next few years to further penetrate these fields, and I hope that this forum will provide a source of wisdom and a place to impart learning.

ॐ तत् सत्