Languaging as a second order of joint control process


Languaging as a second order of joint control process

 Joachim De Beule (AI-lab, VUB)


In this talk, I give a cybernetic account of the phenomenon of language.  The talk consists of three parts.

In the first part, I consider languaging as the process by which people transmit meaningful information.  I investigate what it is that makes information meaningful.  The relation between Shannon information and Bateson (or MacKay) information is discussed, and their connection to the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic dimensions of language are made clear.  This will reveal that the notion of meaning or function can be treated scientifically by taking a process-metaphysical perspective and by conceiving life as a self-regulatory process. 

In the second part, I take into account that language is a collective phenomenon.  In light of the first part, I therefore consider the interaction between self-regulatory systems. I show how it can be investigated by comparing both systems' essential variables.  This leads to a second order cybernetic theory of evolution and the prediction that when systems share essential variables and specialize, they can undergo a meta-level transition and become an integrated whole. Integration requires communication, however, revealing that languaging essentially is a process of joint or integrated control.

In the third and final part, I consider the fact that languages are arbitrary.  This implies that they are the result of conventionalization processes. In light of the previous parts, this means that a study of such processes may give valuable insights into the dynamics of meta-level transitions.  I briefly discuss a computational model of conventionalization, revealing the typical dynamics involved.


Slides of the talk:

Ross Ashby (1965) An Introduction to Cybernetics. Chapman Hall, London
Robert Rosen (1991) Life Itself. Columbia University Press, New York
Joachim De Beule, Eivind Hovig and Mikael Benson (2011) Introducing
Dynamics into the Field of Biosemiotics. Biosemiotics Vol.4 No.1
The speaker:

Joachim De Beule obtained his PhD in computer science at the VUB Artificial Intelligence lab in 2007 under the supervision of Luc Steels.  Since then, his research has focused upon combining insights and models from language evolution and biological evolution in order to unravel the origin and evolution of biological symbol systems. In recent years, this lead him to an inquiry into the nature of meaning and biological function, bringing him to explore the fields of cybernetics and biosemiotics.