AI Seminar

An Exploratory Model of Language Acquisition and Evolution

John HollandProfessor, Psychology and Computer Science and Engineering

An Exploratory Model of Language Acquisition and Evolution


John Holland
Professor, Psychology
Professor, Computer Science and Engineering


The major objective is to observe the emergence of a structured language in a situated, multi-agent (social) model. The agents have no wired-in (pre-determined) language structure. The agents are situated in an environment exhibiting perpetual novelty. The environment is Darwinian so that agent survival depends upon collecting resources provided by the environment.

The following should be emergent properties:
1) Networks of interaction between agents.
2) Proto-grammatical (sequenced utterance) constructions.
3) Meanings (treated as equivalence classes over environmental states).
4) Increasing complexity and diversity of agents.

John H. Holland is a professor of Psychology and a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He is also an external professor and member of the Board of Trustees at the Santa Fe Institute, a MacArthur Fellow and a Fellow of the World Economic Forum. His main research interests are complex adaptive systems (natural and artificial), computer-executable models of cognitive processes, and the construction of models for computer-based thought experiments. His two most recent books are
Emergence: From Chaos to Order and Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity.

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