Researchers in Australia – where everyone knows the robocalypse will begin – are helping robots to invent their own language.
To understand the concept behind the project, consider a simplified case of how language might have developed. Let's say that all of a sudden you wake up somewhere with your memory completely wiped, not knowing English, Klingon, or any other language. And then you meet some other person who's in the exact same situation as you. What do you do?
What might very well end up happening is that you invent some random word to describe where you are right now, and then point at the ground and tell the word to the other person, establishing a connection between this new word and a place. And this is exactly what the Lingodroids do. If one of the robots finds itself in an unfamiliar area, it'll make up a word to describe it, choosing a random combination from a set of syllables. It then communicates that word to other robots that it meets, thereby defining the name of a place.
First of all, I don’t care how big a bump on the head I received, I would never, NEVER forget how to speak Klingon. That said, while I agree the project is fairly interesting, I have to wonder about the merit of these kinds of experiments that pre-suppose the outcome – in other words, the process relies on the very assumptions of how languages develop that it purports to address.
Either way, when I’m in a badass swordfight with our robotic overlords, I want to be able to understand the smack talk!