Co-evolution of language and agents in referential games

Gautier Dagan, Dieuwke Hupkes, Elia Bruni


Abstract
Referential games offer a grounded learning environment for neural agents which accounts for the fact that language is functionally used to communicate. However, they do not take into account a second constraint considered to be fundamental for the shape of human language: that it must be learnable by new language learners. Cogswell et al. (2019) introduced cultural transmission within referential games through a changing population of agents to constrain the emerging language to be learnable. However, the resulting languages remain inherently biased by the agents’ underlying capabilities. In this work, we introduce Language Transmission Simulator to model both cultural and architectural evolution in a population of agents. As our core contribution, we empirically show that the optimal situation is to take into account also the learning biases of the language learners and thus let language and agents co-evolve. When we allow the agent population to evolve through architectural evolution, we achieve across the board improvements on all considered metrics and surpass the gains made with cultural transmission. These results stress the importance of studying the underlying agent architecture and pave the way to investigate the co-evolution of language and agent in language emergence studies.
Anthology ID:
2021.eacl-main.260
Volume:
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume
Month:
April
Year:
2021
Address:
Online
Venue:
EACL
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Computational Linguistics
Note:
Pages:
2993–3004
Language:
URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2021.eacl-main.260
DOI:
Bibkey:
Copy Citation:
PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2021.eacl-main.260.pdf