Synthetic Ethology and the Evolution of Cooperative Communication

Synthetic ethology is proposed as a means of conducting controlled experiments investigating the mechanisms and evolution of communication. After a discussion of the goals and methods of synthetic ethology, two series of experiments are described based on at least 5000 breeding cycles. The first demonstrates the evolution of cooperative communication in a population of simple machines. The average fitness of the population and the organization of its use of signals are compared under three conditions: communication suppressed, communication permitted, and communication permitted in the presence of learning. Where communication is permitted, the fitness increases approximately 26 times faster than when communication is suppressed; with communication and learning, the rate of fitness increase is nearly 100-fold The second series of experiments illustrates the evolution of a syntactically simple language, in which a pair of signals is required for effective communication. © 1993, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

Synthetic ethology is proposed as a means of conducting controlled experiments investigating the mechanisms and evolution of communication. After a discussion of the goals and methods of synthetic ethology, two series of experiments are described based on at least 5000 breeding cycles. The first demonstrates the evolution of cooperative communication in a population of simple machines. The average fitness of the population and the organization of its use of signals are compared under three conditions: communication suppressed, communication permitted, and communication permitted in the presence of learning. Where communication is permitted, the fitness increases approximately 26 times faster than when communication is suppressed; with communication and learning, the rate of fitness increase is nearly 100-fold The second series of experiments illustrates the evolution of a syntactically simple language, in which a pair of signals is required for effective communication. © 1993, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

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