Robots that Say ’No’: Acquisition of Linguistic Behaviour in Interaction Games with Humans
Negation is a part of language that humans engage in pretty much from the onset of speech. Negation appears at first glance to be harder to grasp than object or action labels, yet this thesis explores how this family of ‘concepts’ could be acquired in a meaningful way by a humanoid robot based solely on the unconstrained dialogue with a human conversation partner. The earliest forms of negation appear to be linked to the affective or motivational state of the speaker. Therefore we developed a behavioural architecture which contains a motivational system. This motivational system feeds its state simultaneously to other subsystems for the purpose of symbol-grounding but also leads to the expression of the robot’s motivational state via a facial display of emotions and motivationally congruent body behaviours. In order to achieve the grounding of negative words we will examine two different mechanisms which provide an alternative to the established grounding via ostension with or without joint attention. Two large experiments were conducted to test these two mechanisms. One of these mechanisms is so called negative intent interpretation, the other one is a combination of physical and linguistic prohibition. Both mechanisms have been described in the literature on early child language development but have never been used in human-robot-interaction for the purpose of symbol grounding. As we will show, both mechanisms may operate simultaneously and we can exclude none of them as potential ontogenetic origin of negation.
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