Robert H Wortham, Joanna J Bryson

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

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From a traditional engineering perspective, communication is about effecting control over a distance, and its primary concern is the reliability of transmission. This chapter reviews communication in nature, describing its evolution from the perspective of the selfish gene. Communication in nature is ubiquitous and generally honest, and arises as much from collaboration as manipulation. We show that context and relevance allow effective communication with little information transfer, particularly between organisms with similar capacities and goals. Human language differs fundamentally from the non-verbal communication we share with other animals; robots may need to accommodate both. We document progress in AI capacities to generate synthetic emotion and to sense and classify human emotion. Communication in contemporary biomimetic systems is between robots in swarm robotics, but also between robot and human for both autonomous and collaborative systems. We suggest increased future emphasis on capacities to receive and comprehend signs, and on the pragmatic utility of communication and cooperation.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiving Machines
Subtitle of host publicationA Handbook of Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems
EditorsT. J. Prescott, N. Lepora, P. F. M. J. Verschure
Place of PublicationOxford, U. K.
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199674923
ISBN (Print)9780199674923
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2018


  • Altruism
  • Communication
  • Competition
  • Control
  • Cooperation
  • Cue
  • Evolution
  • Human robot interaction
  • Signal
  • Swarm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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