BBC science reports on use of computers to trace language origins. Be sure and check out the links to other articles at the bottom, which I found more interesting than the original.
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My professional life was dominated by computing. Some people think that software techniques from one discipline can be brought to bear on other disciplines. Languages are not "alive" in the sense that organisms are alive. There is no assurance that algorithms that analyze organic questions have any relevance to linguistics. Some of the articles I have read in the referenced links are highly problematic. Linguistics does not have the data to feed large data analysis machine. These computer applications are a case of using an unsuitable tool to do a job. The experience and mental alertness of a linguist cannot be replaced by data crunching. As for artificial intelligence in computers, I have been looking for it for half a century and am convinced that it is a pipe dream. Just because a computer says it, it "ain’t necessarily so".
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
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