Language as a complex adaptive system

  • IFISC Colloquium

  • Luc Steels
  • Universitat Pompeu Fabra, CSIC
  • April 13, 2016, 3 p.m.
  • IFISC Seminar Room
  • Announcement file

The origins and evolution of language is one of the most fascinating topics of research in science today. Many different disciplines, including complex systems science, are looking at the problem from their own point of view, and there are profound fundamental differences beween researchers from each discipline on what counts as an explanation, what is an appropriate research method, and how theoretical models can be validated.

My talk will introduce the standpoint of evolutionary linguistics, which studies language origins and language evolution primarily as a cultural phenomenon. The major transition from animal communication to human language took place when the conditions emerged for a communication to evolve in a cultural rather than genetic fashion. From that point on, language became a comlex adaptive system in its own right, that continuously adapts to the expressive needs of its users, increases in complexity through level formation, diversifies through replicator dynamics, and keeps coherence through self-organization.

I will show examples how we can study the cultural dynamics of language using computer simulations and robotic experiments and analytic methods, pointing in particular to many opportunities for further research for complex systems science researchers.


Contact details:

Llorenç Serra
971 17 28 05
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