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Huttegger Simon | Fellow Postdoctoral
2006-04-01 - 2008-03-31 | Research area: Cognition and Sociality
Communication Networks in Adaptive Systems
Signaling games provide a basic model for investigating epistemological questions surrounding information transfer, reference and meaning. As such, they have played a prominent role in theoretical biology, economics, AI, and philosophy. So far, mostly two-agent interactions have been studied by embedding them into some evolutionary dynamics. This project aims at investigating how agents network to distribute valuable information (thus shifting attention to interactions between more than two agents). There are two baseline models that will be studied. In the first one, each agent has a piece of information that is valuable to all other agents. They start to connect to each other. Connections are costly. The agents’ decisions are governed by some (adaptive) learning mechanism. Each agent gets the information from the agents directly connected to her and from agents indirectly connected to her via her direct connections. The ring turns out to be the unique efficient network structure in this case. It will be studied what a minimal learning algorithm must look like so that the agents may converge to the ring. Preliminary simulations suggest that some kind of forward-looking property and the ability to take account of the perspectives of other agents might be a necessary condition of convergence. A second baseline model extends this to a setting where agents simultaneously connect to each other and learn to signal. This project has three main objectives. The first one is to understand more about the constraints on agents who are able to distribute information efficiently. The second one is related to problems in evolutionary epistemology. If epistemology is the study of the role of information about the world in knowledge systems, then we aim at understanding more about the epistemology of how pieces of information might be put together, when information keeps on flowing, when it is stored, and so on. Finally, the ring structure is also of anthropological interest. Exchange networks like the Kula ring of the Trobriand islands have the structure of a ring. This raises fundamental questions about the strategical aspects and the dynamics of the formation of those kind of networks.