Iterated learning and communication jointly explain efficient color naming systems

Emil Carlsson, Devdatt Dubhashi, Terry Regier. Published in Proceedings of the 45th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2023

It has been argued that semantic systems reflect pressure for efficiency, and a current debate concerns the cultural evolutionary process that produces this pattern. We consider efficiency as instantiated in the Information Bottleneck (IB) principle, and a model of cultural evolution that combines iterated learning and communication. We show that this model, instantiated in neural networks, converges to color naming systems that are efficient in the IB sense and similar to human color naming systems. We also show that iterated learning alone, and communication alone, do not yield the same outcome as clearly.

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