How do conventions of communication emerge? How do sounds or gestures take on a
semantic meaning, and how do pragmatic conventions emerge regarding the passing of adequate, reliable, and relevant information? My colleagues and I have attempted in earlier work to extend spatialized game theory to questions of semantics. Agent-based simulations indicate that simple signaling systems emerge fairly naturally on the basis of individual information maximization in environments of wandering food sources and predators. Simple signaling emerges by means of any of various forms of updating on the behavior of immediate neighbors: imitation, localized genetic algorithms, and partial training in neural nets.
Here the goal is to apply similar techniques to questions of pragmatics. The motivating
idea is the same: the idea that important aspects of pragmatics, like important aspects of
semantics, may fall out as a natural results of information maximization in informational
networks. The attempt below is to simulate fundamental elements of the Gricean picture: in
particular, to show within networks of very simple agents the emergence of behavior in accord
with the Gricean maxims. What these simulations suggest is that important features of
pragmatics, like important aspects of semantics, don't have to be added in a theory of
informational networks. They come for free.