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An investigation into the evolution of communication.

SAGE Publications
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  • Communication
  • Computer Science


This article presents a theoretical criticism of current approaches to the study of the evolution of communication. In particular, two very common preconceptions about the subject are analyzed: the role of natural selection in the definition of the phenomenon of communication and the metaphor of communication as information exchange. An alternative characterization is presented in terms of autopoietic theory, which avoids the mentioned preconceptions. In support of this view, the evolution of coordinated activity is studied in a population of artificial agents playing an interactional game. Dynamical modeling of this evolutionary process based on game-theoretical considerations shows the existence of an evolutionarily stable strategy in the total lack of coordinated activity which, however, may be unreachable due to the presence of a periodic attractor. In a computational model of the same game, action coordination evolves even with individual costs against it, due to the presence of spatial structuring processes. A detailed explanation of this phenomenon, which does not require kin selection, is presented. In an extended game, recursive coordination evolves nontrivially when the participants share all the relevant information, demonstrating that the metaphor of information exchange can be misleading. It is shown that agents engaged in this sort of interaction are able to perform beyond their individual capabilities.

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