Agent cognitive capabilities and orders of social emergence

Christopher Goldspink, Robert Kay

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter critically examines our theoretical understanding of the dialectical relationship between emergent social structures and agent behaviors. While much has been written about emergence individually as a concept, and the use of simulation methods are being increasingly applied to the exploration of social behavior, the concept of "social emergence" remains ill defined. Furthermore, there has been little theoretical treatment or practical explorations of how both the range and type of emergent structures observed may change as agents are endowed with increasingly sophisticated cognitive abilities. While we are still a very long way from being able to build artificial agents with human-like cognitive capabilities, it would be timely to revisit the extent of the challenge and to see where recent advances in our understanding of higher order cognition leave us. This chapter provides a brief recount of the theory of emergence, considers recent contributions to thinking about orders of emergence, and unpacks these in terms of implied agent characteristics. Observations are made about the implications of alternative cognitive paradigms and the position is proposed that an enactivist view provides the most logical pathway to advancing our understanding. The chapter concludes by presenting an account of reflexive and non-reflexive modes of emergence, which incorporates this view.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Research on Agent-Based Societies
Subtitle of host publicationSocial and Cultural Interactions
EditorsGoran Trajkovski, Samuel G. Collins
Place of PublicationHershey, PA
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781605662367, 1605662364
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

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