It has been awhile since we first learned of Myon, a cyclopsian humanoid built for Humboldt University, Germany in 2010. It is the main robot being used in the multinational ALEAR project (Artificial Language Evolution on Autonomous Robots), which explores how “complex grammatical systems and behaviors can emerge in populations of robotic agents.” The project was recently featured in a BBC Horizon special called The Hunt for AI.
How language emerges and evolves is a fascinating subject, made all the more interesting by experiments where robots build a shared vocabulary from the ground up. They do it in much the same way our ancient ancestors must have, by naming the actions they perform as well as the things around them. Experiments play out like a game where a teacher and observer interact.