Evolutionary Semantics on Real Robots

Evolutionary Semantics on Real Robots
Michael Spranger (Sony CSL Tokyo) 
Natural Language is evidence for the ingenious ways humans conceptualize reality. English, for instance, provides various ways for talking about objects using many spatial relations such as front, back, up etc. Importantly, English allows to use these different spatial relations in many different conceptualization strategies. For instance, spatial relations can be used in group-based reference (adjectives), or to denote regions (prepositional use). Another type of evidence for the complexity of Natural language semantics comes from the analysis of cross-cultural variation which shows that languages other than English have found radically different ways for conceptualizing reality. E.g. Tzeltal speakers exclusively use absolute spatial relations such as uphill/downhill for talking about objects. These findings point to semantics as an evolutionary system in itself with wide-ranging impact on the evolution of language as a whole. 
This talk will introduce a computational  system that allows to model complex conceptualizations underlying natural language, and enables robots to automatically conceptualize the world. In a second part we show how the system can be used to investigate the evolution of rich, open-ended semantics similar to those found in natural language. The talk primarily uses examples from investigations into spatial language, but other areas of language are also discussed.
Michael Spranger received his Diploma from the Humboldt- Universitt zu Berlin (Germany) in 2008 and a PhD from the Vrije Universiteit in Brussels (Belgium) in 2011 (both in Computer Science). For his PhD he was a researcher at Sony CSL. He then worked in the R&D department of Sony corporation in Tokyo (Japan) for almost 2 years. He currently holds positions in Sony CSL and Sony Corporation. He is a roboticist by training with extensive experience in research on and construction of autonomous systems including research on robot perception, world modeling and behavior control. After his diploma he fell in love with the study of language and has since worked on different language domains from action language and posture verbs to time, tense, determination and spatial language. His work focusses on artificial language evolution, computational cognitive semantics and robotics.
M. Spranger, S. Pauw, M. Loetzsch and L. Steels (2012). Open-Ended Procedural Semantics. In Luc Steels and Manfred Hild (Eds.), Language Grounding in Robot, 153-172. New York: Springer.Open-ended Procedural Semantics