August, 2018 UGOE published the work “Symbol Emergence in Cognitive Developmental Systems: A Survey“
Humans use signs, e.g., sentences in a spoken language, for communication and thought. Hence, symbol systems like language are crucial for our communication with other agents and adaptation to our real-world environment. The symbol systems we use in our human society adaptively and dynamically change over time. In the context of artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive systems, the symbol grounding problem has been regarded as one of the central problems related to symbols. However, the symbol grounding problem was originally posed to connect symbolic AI and sensorimotor information and did not consider many interdisciplinary phenomena in human communication and dynamic symbol systems in our society, which semiotics considered. In this paper, we focus on the symbol emergence problem, addressing not only cognitive dynamics but also the dynamics of symbol systems in society, rather than the symbol grounding problem. We first introduce the notion of a symbol in semiotics from the humanities, to leave the very narrow idea of symbols in symbolic AI. Furthermore, over the years, it became more and more clear that symbol emergence has to be regarded as a multifaceted problem. Therefore, second, we review the history of the symbol emergence problem in different fields, including both biological and artificial systems, showing their mutual relations. We summarize the discussion and provide an integrative viewpoint and comprehensive overview of symbol emergence in cognitive systems. Additionally, we describe the challenges facing the creation of cognitive systems that can be part of symbol emergence systems.