This series publishes high quality research using computational methods to investigate fundamental questions in the origins and evolution of language, informed by observations from historical linguistics and/or child language development. The series will include new monographs, revised doctoral dissertations, edited volumes, and textbooks.
In order to be included in the series, the questions raised must be of relevance to evolutionary linguistics. There must be evidence of a working implementation that ideally can be accessed openly and, if empirical issues are considered, the data must ideally be available to compare them with the proposed models. The text must be of high quality and contain appropriate reference to prior work and the state of the art in the field.
One of the hardest problems in science is the symbol grounding problem, a question that has intrigued philosophers and linguists for more than a century. With the rise of artificial intelligence, the question has become very actual, especially within the field of robotics. The problem is that an agent, be it a robot or a human, perceives the world in analogue signals. Yet humans have the ability to categorise the world in symbols that they, for instance, may use for language. This book presents a series of experiments in which two robots try to solve the symbol grounding problem. The experiments are based on the language game paradigm, and involve real mobile robots that are able to develop a grounded lexicon about the objects that they can detect in their world. Crucially, neither the lexicon nor the ontology of the robots has been preprogrammed, so the experiments demonstrate how a population of embodied language users can develop their own vocabularies from scratch.View less
This book presents groundbreaking robotic experiments on how and why spatial language evolves. It provides detailed explanations of the origins of spatial conceptualization strategies, spatial categories, landmark systems and spatial grammar by tracing the interplay of environmental conditions, communicative and cognitive pressures. The experiments discussed in this book go far beyond previous approaches in grounded language evolution. For the first time, agents can evolve not only particular lexical systems but also evolve complex conceptualization strategies underlying the emergence of category systems and compositional semantics. Moreover, many issues in cognitive science, ranging from perception and conceptualization to language processing, had to be dealt with to instantiate these experiments, so that this book contributes not only to the study of language evolution but to the investigation of the cognitive bases of spatial language as well.View less
The Talking Heads Experiment, conducted in the years 1999-2001, was the first large-scale experiment in which open populations of situated embodied agents created for the first time ever a new shared vocabulary by playing language games about real world scenes in front of them. The agents could teleport to different physical sites in the world through the Internet. Sites, in Antwerp, Brussels, Paris, Tokyo, London, Cambridge and several other locations were linked into the network. Humans could interact with the robotic agents either on site or remotely through the Internet and thus influence the evolving ontologies and languages of the artificial agents. The present book describes in detail the motivation, the cognitive mechanisms used by the agents, the various installations of the Talking Heads, the experimental results that were obtained, and the interaction with humans. It also provides a perspective on what happened in the field after these initial groundbreaking experiments. The book is invaluable reading for anyone interested in the history of agent-based models of language evolution and the future of Artificial Intelligence.View less
This book presents a major leap forward in the understanding of colour by showing how richer descriptions of colour samples can be operationalized in agent-based models. Four different language strategies are explored: the basic colour strategy, the graded membership strategy, the category combination strategy and the basic modification strategy. These strategies are firmly rooted in empirical observations in natural languages, with a focus on compositionality at both the syntactic and semantic level. Through a series of in-depth experiments, this book discerns the impact of the environment, language and embodiment on the formation of basic colour systems. Finally, the experiments demonstrate how language users can invent their own language strategies of increasing complexity by combining primitive cognitive operators, and how these strategies can be aligned between language users through linguistic interactions.View less
There are few linguistic phenomena that have seduced linguists so skillfully as grammatical case has done. Ever since Panini (4th Century BC), case has claimed a central role in linguistic theory and continues to do so today. However, despite centuries worth of research, case has yet to reveal its most important secrets. This book offers breakthrough explanations for the understanding of case through agent-based experiments in cultural language evolution. The experiments demonstrate that case systems may emerge because they have a selective advantage for communication: they reduce the cognitive effort that listeners need for semantic interpretation, while at the same time limiting the cognitive resources required for doing so.View less