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Comment The language has the "life" not the robot (Score 1) 159

>What do robots need and why would they be developing a language if they don't have any needs? In one sense, a robot species' main "need" is to impress humans well enough to copy them. Pioneer robots have to be useful in research labs for people to keep making them. Language learning robots are a specific combination of hardware and software. {motives, needs, instincts, ...} have relatively clear meanings for carbon-based life forms but are loaded when applied to non-carbon agents. Robots, like chess-playing programs aren't alive in the same sense of the word. But evolution does apply to systems other than carbon-based living things. Programs do solve problems, and the better they solve them, the better chance they have of "survival". Within the short time frame of a language game, it's misleading to think about the robot as having a "life". It's more reasonable to think of the _language_ as having the life. Languages are constantly changing. A language variant is harder or easier to learn, more or less expressive, more or less useful. Language variants that have the right combination tend to survive longer. The robot and the language learning system is like the ecological niche.

Comment Not just nouns - also "prepositions" (Score 1) 159

The robots played where-are-we, what-direction and how-far games, to create three different types of words. The coolest part of the study is that once their language is created, the robots can refer to places they haven't been to. That's imagination. Then they go explore and meet up at the place they previously referred to using their words for distance and direction.

Comment Re:Misleading headline (Score 1) 159

Space is a tough concept to "program" into a robot. You can't see it or touch it. In a simulation it can be a grid, but in the real world, each robot has to work out where it is itself. Without mind reading, how do two robots share their sense of space? The language games are the easy part. The robots create names for places, distances and directions. The tough part is knowing what those words should refer to in the real world. To make this work with real robots is a first.

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Real Programmers don't write in PL/I. PL/I is for programmers who can't decide whether to write in COBOL or FORTRAN.