Inference and information: the computational basis of referential language use - Speaker: Noah Goodman

Inference and information: the computational basis of referential language use

Noah Goodman

Stanford University

A key function of human language is reference to objects and situations. Referential language grounds in stable semantic conventions, but flexibly depends on context. In this talk I will explore the computational mechanisms of referential language in the setting of language games. I will argue that many patterns of behavioral data can be explained by a combination of hierarchical learning for semantics — realized with the tools of deep neural networks — and recursive social reasoning for pragmatics — realized in the Bayesian rational speech acts (RSA) framework. I will consider phenomena of redundancy in reference, grounding semantics in vision, and adaptation under repeated interaction. Finally I will address a key puzzle for RSA (and other neo-Gricean theories): how can production be so quick and effortless if it depends on complex recursive reasoning?

If you would like to meet the speaker, please contact Noortje Venhuizen.