Scaffolding Language Emergence Using the Autotelic Principle.

Luc Steels, Pieter Wellens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

8 Citations (Scopus)


The paper focuses on the problem how a community of distributed agents may autonomously invent and coordinate lexicons and grammars. Although our earlier experiments have shown that a communication system can indeed emerge in a socio-cultural dynamics, it relies on the control of complexity by the experimenter, so that agents first acquire words, then simple constructions, and then more complex ones.
This paper addresses the question how agents could themselves regulate the complexity both of the mechanisms they bring to bear to the language task and on the semantic complexity of what they want to express. We make use of the autotelic principle, coming from psychology. It requires monitoring challenge and skill (based on actual performance) and maintaining a 'flow' regime balancing the two. We show in computational experiments that the autotelic principle is able to explain autonomous scaffolding towards greater complexity in the emergence of language.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIEEE Symposium on Artificial Life
PublisherIEEE Xplore
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2007
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009


ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet


  • invention of lexicon and grammars
  • emergence of language


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