Agent Cognitive Capabilities and Orders of Social Emergence

Agent Cognitive Capabilities and Orders of Social Emergence

Christopher Goldspink (Incept Labs, Australia) and Robert Kay (Incept Labs, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-236-7.ch002
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This chapter critically examines our theoretical understanding of the dialectical relationship between emergent social structures and agent behaviors. While much has been written about emergence individually as a concept, and the use of simulation methods are being increasingly applied to the exploration of social behavior, the concept of “social emergence” remains ill defined. Furthermore, there has been little theoretical treatment or practical explorations of how both the range and type of emergent structures observed may change as agents are endowed with increasingly sophisticated cognitive abilities. While we are still a very long way from being able to build artificial agents with human-like cognitive capabilities, it would be timely to revisit the extent of the challenge and to see where recent advances in our understanding of higher order cognition leave us. This chapter provides a brief recount of the theory of emergence, considers recent contributions to thinking about orders of emergence, and unpacks these in terms of implied agent characteristics. Observations are made about the implications of alternative cognitive paradigms and the position is proposed that an enactivist view provides the most logical pathway to advancing our understanding. The chapter concludes by presenting an account of reflexive and non-reflexive modes of emergence, which incorporates this view.
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Building and working with artificial societies using the methods of multi-agent social simulation serves us in several ways: 1) It allows us to operationalize social theories and to compare simulated behaviors with those observed in the real world; and 2) it allows us to build new theory by exploring the minimal mechanisms that might explain observed social behavior. Most importantly 3) it provides a unique ability to explore the interplay between levels of phenomena and to understand dynamic properties of systems. A great deal can and has been achieved in both these areas with even the simple methods we currently have available. However, Keith Sawyer (2003) has recently reminded us that, to date, we have worked with agents with very limited cognitive capability and that this necessarily limits the range and type of behavior which can be explored. This echoes a sentiment made a decade ago by Christiano Castelfranchi (1998a) that social simulation is not really social until it can provide an adequate account of the implication of feedback between macro and micro which becomes possible with higher cognitive functioning of social agents.

In many respects, developments in our capacity to simulate artificial societies have led us to confront anew a long-standing issue within social theory. This is a problem that social science conducted within traditional disciplinary boundaries has become quite adept at avoiding. Indeed it can be argued that the particular form disciplinary fragmentation takes in social science is a primary strategy for avoiding it. The problem is referred to in a number of ways depending on the disciplinary tradition. This chapter begins by revisiting this most important of problems. In terms of the challenge it poses to artificial societies it can be expressed in the following three questions:

  • 1.

    What are the fundamental cognitive characteristics which distinguish human agents from animal or automaton?

  • 2.

    How do these characteristics influence the range and type of behaviors agents may generate and the emergent structures which they may give rise to?

  • 3.

    How can we theorize about the relationship between cognitive capability and categories of emergent form?

These questions form the focus for this chapter. We begin to address them by revisiting the contribution of alternative schools of thought to our understanding of the nature and origins of emergent structure and alternative concepts of orders of emergence. We then discuss the implications of the two competing cognitive paradigms within AI—that of cognitivism and the enactive view. Finally we turn to current research on the development of human cognition and examine its implications for anticipating different orders of emergent structure—proposing what we call reflexive and non-reflexive classes of emergence. Finally a research program for the advancement of understanding in this area is proposed.

This work has its origins in two strands of research with which the authors are currently involved. The first addresses the relationship between micro and macro levels of social behavior and organization directly. Over the past decade we have explored the characteristics of the micro-macro problem (see Chris Goldspink & Kay, 2003, 2004) in pursuit of a coherent and consistent account of the interpenetration (circular causality) between micro and macro phenomena. Our aim is to develop a theory which can provide a substantive account of fundamental social generative mechanisms. To date no such social theory exists that satisfactorily explains this dynamic.

The other strand is one author’s involvement with the Centre for Research in Social Simulation and though it the European Union funded project titled Emergence in the Loop (EMIL). The aim of EMIL is to: a) provide a theoretical account of the mechanisms of normative self-regulation in a number of computer mediated communities b) specify the minimum cognitive processes agents require to behave in normative ways c) develop a simulator which can replicate the range and type of normative behavior identified by the empirical research so as to further deepen our understanding of how and under what conditions normative self-regulation is possible and the range and type of environmental factors which influence it.

Complete Chapter List

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List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Georgi Stojanov
Chapter 1
R. Keith Sawyer
Sociology should be the foundational science of social emergence. But to date, sociologists have neglected emergence, and studies of emergence are... Sample PDF
The Science of Social Emergence
Chapter 2
Christopher Goldspink, Robert Kay
This chapter critically examines our theoretical understanding of the dialectical relationship between emergent social structures and agent... Sample PDF
Agent Cognitive Capabilities and Orders of Social Emergence
Chapter 3
Joseph C. Bullington
Social interaction represents a powerful new locus of research in the quest to build more truly human-like artificial agents. The work in this area... Sample PDF
Agents and Social Interaction: Insights from Social Psychology
Chapter 4
M. Afzal Upal
This chapter will critically review existing approaches to the modeling transmission of cultural information and advocate a new approach based on a... Sample PDF
Predictive Models of Cultural Information Transmission
Chapter 5
Jorge A. Romero
Despite the popularity of agents for the information technology infrastructure, questions remain because it is not clear what do e-business agents... Sample PDF
Interaction of Agent in E-Business: A Look at Different Sources
Chapter 6
Adam J. Conover
This chapter presents a description of ongoing experimental research into the emergent properties of multi-agent communication in “temporally... Sample PDF
A Simulation of Temporally Variant Agent Interaction via Passive Inquiry
Chapter 7
Richard Schilling
This chapter presents a generalized messaging infrastructure that can be used for distributed agent systems. The principle of agent feedback... Sample PDF
Agent Feedback Messaging: A Messaging Infrastructure for Distributed Message Delivery
Chapter 8
Yu Zhang, Mark Lewis, Christine Drennon, Michael Pellon, Coleman
Multi-agent systems have been used to model complex social systems in many domains. The entire movement of multi-agent paradigm was spawned, at... Sample PDF
Modeling Cognitive Agents for Social Systems and a Simulation in Urban Dynamics
Chapter 9
Scott Watson, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Wan Ching (Steve) Ho, Rafal Dawidowicz
This chapter discusses certain issues in the development of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) populated by autonomous social agents, with... Sample PDF
Developing Relationships Between Autonomous Agents: Promoting Pro-Social Behaviour Through Virtual Learning Environments Part I
Chapter 10
Martin Takác
In this chapter, we focus on the issue of understanding in various types of agents. Our main goal is to build up notions of meanings and... Sample PDF
Construction of Meanings in Biological and Artificial Agents
Chapter 11
Myriam Abramson
In heterogeneous multi-agent systems, where human and non-human agents coexist, intelligent proxy agents can help smooth out fundamental... Sample PDF
Training Coordination Proxy Agents Using Reinforcement Learning
Chapter 12
Deborah V. Duong
The first intelligent agent social model, in 1991, used tags with emergent meaning to simulate the emergence of institutions based on the principles... Sample PDF
The Generative Power of Signs: The Importance of the Autonomous Perception of Tags to the Strong Emergence of Institutions
Chapter 13
Josefina Sierra, Josefina Santibáñez
This chapter addresses the problem of the acquisition of the syntax of propositional logic. An approach based on general purpose cognitive... Sample PDF
Propositional Logic Syntax Acquisition Using Induction and Self-Organisation
Chapter 14
Giovanni Vincenti, James Braman
Emotions influence our everyday lives, guiding and misguiding us. They lead us to happiness and love, but also to irrational acts. Artificial... Sample PDF
Hybrid Emotionally Aware Mediated Multiagency
Chapter 15
Samuel G. Collins, Goran Trajkovski
In this chapter, we give an overview of the results of a Human-Robot Interaction experiment, in a near zerocontext environment. We stimulate the... Sample PDF
Mapping Hybrid Agencies Through Multiagent Systems
Chapter 16
Scott Watson, Kerstin Dautenhahn, Wan Ching (Steve) Ho, Rafal Dawidowicz
This chapter is a continuation from Part I, which has described contemporary psychological descriptions of bullying in primary schools and two... Sample PDF
Developing Relationships Between Autonomous Agents: Promoting Pro-Social Behaviour Through Virtual Learning Environments Part II
Chapter 17
Mario Paolucci, Rosaria Conte
This chapter is focused on social reputation as a fundamental mechanism in the diffusion and possibly evolution of socially desirable behaviour... Sample PDF
Reputation: Social Transmission for Partner Selection
Chapter 18
Adam J. Conover
This chapter concludes a two part series which examines the emergent properties of multi-agent communication in “temporally asynchronous”... Sample PDF
A Simulation of Temporally Variant Agent Interaction via Belief Promulgation
Chapter 19
David B. Newlin
Following the discovery in Rhesus monkeys of “mirror neurons” that fire during both execution and observation of motor behavior, human studies have... Sample PDF
The Human Mirror Neuron System
Chapter 20
Eric Baumer, Bill Tomlinson
This chapter presents an argument that the process of emergence is the converse of the process of abstraction. Emergence involves complex behavior... Sample PDF
Relationships Between the Processes of Emergence and Abstraction in Societies
Chapter 21
Vern R. Walker
In modern legal systems, a large number of autonomous agents can achieve reasonably fair and accurate decisions in tens of thousands of legal cases.... Sample PDF
Emergent Reasoning Structures in Law
Chapter 22
Theodor Richardson
Network Intrusion Detection Systems (NIDS) are designed to differentiate malicious traffic, from normal traf- fic, on a network system to detect the... Sample PDF
Agents in Security: A Look at the Use of Agents in Host-Based Monitoring and Protection and Network Intrusion Detection
Chapter 23
Michael J. North, Thomas R. Howe, Nick Collier, Eric Tatara, Jonathan Ozik, Charles Macal
Search has been recognized as an important technology for a wide range of software applications. Agentbased modelers often face search challenges... Sample PDF
Search as a Tool for Emergence
About the Contributors