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63 (2012), 547–575

**Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning
**

Elliott O. Wagner

Downloaded from http://bjps.oxfordjournals.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1, 2013

ABSTRACT

Common wisdom holds that communication is impossible when messages are costless and communicators have totally opposed interests. This article demonstrates that such wisdom is false. Non-convergent dynamics can sustain partial information transfer even in a zero-sum signalling game. In particular, I investigate a signalling game in which messages are free, the state-act payoffs resemble rock–paper–scissors, and senders and receivers adjust their strategies according to the replicator dynamic. This system exhibits Hamiltonian chaos and trajectories do not converge to equilibria. This persistent out-of-equilibrium behaviour results in messages that do not perfectly reveal the sender’s private information, but do transfer information as quantiﬁed by the Kullback–Leibler divergence. This ﬁnding shows that adaptive dynamics can enable information transmission even though messages at equilibria are meaningless. This suggests a new explanation for the evolution or spontaneous emergence of meaning: non-convergent adaptive dynamics.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Introduction Lewis Signalling Games and Information Transfer Evolution and Lewis Signalling Games Signalling Games with Opposing Interests Dynamics of Zero-Sum Signalling Games Deterministic Chaos and Information Transfer Conclusion

1 Introduction

Is communication possible when messages are free and the interests of the communicators are opposed? According to one common line of reasoning, perhaps not. Consider a sender with private information about the world and an opportunity to convey this information to some receiver. If these two parties have different preferences over the receiver’s possible actions in each

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548

Elliott O. Wagner

state of the world, then why should the sender bother communicating her information to the receiver? And likewise why should the receiver believe any messages she receives from the sender? As Franke et al. ([2009]) put things, it ‘is easy to see that under conditions of extreme conﬂict (a zero-sum game), no informative communication can be sustained. For why should we give information to the enemy, or believe what the enemy tells us’. This question—whether or not communication can be sustained when interests oppose—is not an idle one. On the contrary, an understanding of the strategic foundations of communication is of importance to at least four disciplines: philosophy, linguistics, economics, and biology. Starting with Lewis ([1969]), philosophers have used the tools of game theory to explain how terms can gain semantic meaning and thus how language can be the product of convention (see also Millikan [1984]; Skyrms [1996]; Harms [2004]). Linguists have employed game theory to explicate pragmatics and, in particular, Grice’s conversational implicatures (Parikh [2001]; van Rooij [2003]). Economists are interested in understanding when so-called cheap talk can inﬂuence strategic decision-making (Crawford and Sobel [1982]; Farrell and Rabin [1996]). Theoretical biologists also turn to game theory to understand how animal signalling systems can evolve (Maynard Smith and Harper [2003]; Searcy and Nowicki [2005]). Many researchers from these disciplines have endorsed the common-sense conclusion that cheap talk cannot convey information when the interests of the sender and receiver are sufﬁciently opposed. As an example from philosophy, consider:

If the kind of intention that Grice uses to analyze speaker meaning is really essential to genuine communication, then it will be essential to the possibility of communication that there be a certain pattern of common interest between participating parties. (Stalnaker [2005])

Downloaded from http://bjps.oxfordjournals.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1, 2013

**And from economics:
**

A misinformed listener will do something that is not optimal for himself and, if their interests are sufﬁciently aligned, this is bad for the speaker too. In a nutshell, this is how cheap talk can be informative in games, even if players ruthlessly lie when it suits them. (Farrell and Rabin [1996])

Or ‘that once interests diverge by a given, “ﬁnite” amount, only no communication is consistent with rational behaviour’ (Crawford and Sobel [1982]). Informative cheap talk is held to be impossible when interests oppose.1 But these researchers have generally relied upon standard equilibrium analysis when analyzing the prospects for information transfer in strategic

1

Although cheap talk is thought to be uninformative when interests oppose, economists and biologists agree that communication can be kept honest in such situations through costly signalling (Spence [1973]; Zahavi [1975]; Grafen [1990]).

Section 4 extends this framework to signalling games in which the interests of sender and receiver totally oppose. including the deterministic chaos. not all adaptive systems reach an equilibrium. not conﬂicting payoffs.2 but even in the simplest of games.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 549 interactions. Although the signals in this game are meaningless when the system is at an equilibrium. the game is zero-sum: any gain by one player is a loss to the other. Instead.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. Section 2 describes the framework of Lewis signalling games and the mathematical machinery necessary to quantify the informational content of a message in such a game. And thus. it exhibits a very complicated form of out-of-equilibrium behaviour: Hamiltonian chaos. To model biological evolution or social learning. In other words. Economists frequently identify equilibria in signalling games by using something called the intuitive criterion (Cho and Kreps [1987]).3 Since the system doesn’t reach an equilibrium. Mitchener and Nowak ([2004]) have identiﬁed chaos in a different sort of language game. Lewis ([1969]) proposed a reﬁnement of Nash equilibria that he called a proper coordination equilibrium. In this article. Section 6 spells out the consequences of such chaos for information transfer. Lyapunov exponents are used to present strong numerical evidence that the dynamics are indeed chaotic. It is found that information transfer in this system is partial and that the meaning of the signals ﬂuctuates as the dynamics unwind. In Section 3. And biologists generally turn to Maynard Smith and Price’s ([1973]) concept of an evolutionarily stable strategy. The chaos in their setup is due to mutation. Human players may reach an equilibrium through learning and evolutionary systems may reach one through natural selection. 2013 2 3 Skyrms ([2002]) explores the ways in which preplay cheap talk can inﬂuence the sizes of the basins of attraction of various equilibria in signalling games when the interests of the communicators are not perfectly aligned. Downloaded from http://bjps. The game is zero-sum and contains best-response cycles similar to those found in rock–paper–scissors. .oxfordjournals. What all of these approaches to analyzing strategic communication share in common is that they apply reﬁnements of Nash equilibria. is described in detail in Section 5. The dynamics of this game. This is the ﬁrst observation of chaotic behaviour in a Lewis signalling game. I investigate information transfer in a signalling game in which interests are as opposed as possible. Section 7 concludes. information transfer is sustained indeﬁnitely. the system never reaches one. it is assumed that the system evolves according to the replicator dynamic. I describe the dynamics of Lewis signalling games in which the communicators have aligned preferences. adaptive dynamics make communication possible in a zero-sum signalling game. But static equilibrium analysis leaves out part of the story: actors have to ﬁnd their ways to equilibria.

if the players are using the separating strategies shown in Figure 2. 2013 2 Lewis Signalling Games and Information Transfer In this article. but does observe the message sent by the sender. 1 1. 0 a2 s1 2 N 2 a2 0. For instance. Likewise. The sender witnesses the state of the world and then sends a message to the receiver. the receiver’s strategies are functions that map messages into actions. it looks as though m1 means something like ‘s1 has occured’ or ‘take action a1’. two messages. Lewis assumed that each action is ‘correct’ for exactly one state of the world.oxfordjournals. Lewis ([1969]) noted that at such separating equilibria (he called these states ‘signalling systems’) it appears that the messages have semantic meaning.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. I examine a Lewis signalling game with modiﬁed payoffs. This sort of rudimentary semantic meaning has been called a pushmi-pullyu representation by Millikan ([1984]) and primitive content by Harms ([2004]). 1 a1 m1 1 m2 a1 1. After observing the message. An extensive form representation of the standard Lewis signalling game with two states. 1 Elliott O. 1 a2 Figure 1. so that if the receiver performs the correct action for the state that obtained.550 1. Every Lewis signalling game has several Nash equilibria. two messages. Lewis ([1969]) introduced signalling games to argue that language and semantic meaning could be the product of a self-sustaining convention. And there are also separating equilibria in which the message precisely identiﬁes the state and the receiver always performs the proper action in the state that obtains. Table 1 shows a state-act payoff matrix for such a game. The receiver does not observe the state. 0 a1 s2 m1 1 m2 a2 1. An extensive form representation of this game (with two states. There are pooling equilibria in which the sender sends the same message regardless of the state and the receiver performs the same action regardless of message. 0 0. Otherwise they both receive a payoff of zero. the receiver takes some action. Nature ﬂips a coin to determine the state of the world. Since there are two signalling system . and two actions) is shown in Figure 1. Wagner 0. 0 a1 0. Such strategy proﬁles are Nash equilibria because neither player can gain by unilaterally deviating. The standard Lewis signalling game involves two players: a sender and a receiver. Downloaded from http://bjps. and two actions. The sender’s pure strategies in such a game are functions that map states of nature into messages. then both players receive a payoff of one.

Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 551 Table 1. A message’s information content is just how the message affects probabilities. 1 s1 s2 s3 equilibria that are both equally effective at coordinating action yet use different signals for each state. 0 a3 0. log . suppose that nature chooses between three equiprobable states and that the sender only sends message m1 in state s2. 1 0. the information m1 contains about the state in a three-state. three-message. 1:58. 0 1.5 So from the informational content vector it is possible to read off the meaning of the signal. 0 0. 4 5 The probabilities here can be either the probability that a certain state occurred (Skyrms calls this information about the state of nature) or the probability that the receiver will perform a certain action (information about the act). For example. 0 1. À1i ð2Þ Downloaded from http://bjps. three-action signalling game is the vector: ( ! ! !) Prðs1 jm1 Þ Prðs2 jm1 Þ Prðs3 jm1 Þ Iðm1 Þ ¼ log . log ð1Þ Prðs1 Þ Prðs2 Þ Prðs3 Þ If the logarithms here are given in base two. then the informational content is yielded in bits.oxfordjournals. For brevity in this article. Skyrms ([2010]) proposed a more technical notion of information content designed to make discussion of the evolution of semantic meaning more precise. I focus on information about the state. The À1 is an artifact of taking the logarithm and not a reason to worry. Lewis argued that meaning here is conventional. informational content must therefore be a vector with components for each state of the world. As an example. 2013 The À1 components indicate that the states have probability zero given that message m1 is sent. three-message. 0 a2 0. The negative inﬁnity components make it easy to see that the signal rules out states s1 and s3. .4 Since a signal may impact the probabilities of as many states as exist in whatever model is under consideration. These two strategies constitute a strict Nash equilibrium in the standard Lewis signalling game. following Lewis s1 s2 m1 m2 m1 m2 a1 a2 Figure 2. 0 0. and three-action Lewis signalling game a1 1. An example of a signalling system strategy proﬁle. 1 0. Therefore.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. but all of the ﬁndings discussed below also extend to information about the act. A state–act payoff matrix for a standard three-state. Then the informational content of message m1 is simply the vector: Iðm1 Þ ¼ hÀ1.

oxfordjournals. Wagner s1 s2 s1 s2 m1 m2 m1 m2 Figure 3. each signal can be understood as identifying a particular world from a set of possible worlds. i. then she will not perfectly communicate her private information to the receiver.6 But it is not always the case that messages in a signalling game have propositional content. This is because sometimes the sender will employ the ﬁrst signalling system that associates s1 with m1 and s2 with m2. if the sender randomizes between several different strategies. These are strategies for a signalling game with two messages and two states. The informational content of a signal is a vector. so in order to compute an overall measure of information in a message we can take a weighted average over the components in the vector. and other times the sender will employ the second signalling system that associates a different message with each state. 6 Downloaded from http://bjps.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. If the sender ﬂips a biased coin to decide which of these two strategies to use. In fact.e. we can take the signal to mean something like ‘s2 has occurred. Suppose that the coin is biased so that the sender uses the ﬁrst strategy with probability 0.’ which is appropriate given that this signal is only sent in state s2. To make this precise. For example. consider the two sending strategies in Figure 3. Since receiving a signal is just like looking at the outcome of an experiment.3. the signals will only carry partial information about the state of nature. Two sending strategies that transmit partial information about the state of the world when the sender mixes between them. The above information theoretic account of the meaning of a signal is necessary in order to discuss the partial information transfer that emerges in the models below.7 and the second strategy with probability 0. . 2013 Skyrms ([2010]) argues that a considerable advantage of this information theoretic account of meaning is that it subsumes propositional content as a special case of the information content vector.552 Elliott O. the overall quantity of information in signal m1 is equal to ! X Prðsi jm1 Þ Prðsi jm1 Þ log KLðm1 Þ ¼ ð3Þ Prðsi Þ i This quantity is often called the Kullback–Leibler divergence or distance (Kullback and Leibler [1951]). At separating equilibria it is easy to talk loosely about how the signals seem to have gained meaning. In other words. at separating equilibria it is as though the signals have propositional content. this quantity is called ‘the information provided by an experiment’ by Lindley ([1956]).

2013 3 Evolution and Lewis Signalling Games Following Lewis and Skyrms. The information-theoretic account of content described above is indispensable for investigating the emergence of partial communication in such systems. Since the logarithms are taken to base two. The amount of information in these messages is obviously greater than 0 bits. The information content of the messages is I(m1) ¼ < 0. What about simpler agents? Players that are only boundedly rational? Or agents that learn through some sort of naı ¨ve imitation? Or organisms that evolve their strategies through a . the mixed strategy here is partially communicative.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. signalling systems—the messages convey information about the state of the world and it looks as though they’ve gained some semantic meaning. for example.737. The illusion that messages in a signalling game either transmit information or do not is an artifact of a tendency to focus on pure strategies and strategies that form part of a Nash equilibrium. Thus. which is the quantity transmitted by the messages in an equilibrium in which messages do not have meaning.oxfordjournals. À0. But this equilibrium concept requires a lot from the actors in the game. Almost all strategies in the sender’s entire mixed strategy space transmit partial information about the state. such strategy proﬁles are Nash equilibria. That is. KL(m1) ¼ KL(m2) ¼ 0. And it is also less than 1 bit. but do not completely identify the state of the world. In mixed proﬁles and many out-of-equilibrium strategy proﬁles. this quantity is in bits. but each signal is more likely in one of the states than in the other. m1 can be taken to mean something like ‘s1 is probably the case’ and m2 conveys something like ‘s2 is probably the case’. Therefore. 0. which is the quantity transferred by messages in a signalling system. The sort of situation described above is not special or unique. we see that when players in a signalling game adopt certain strategy proﬁles—namely. Lewis argued that signalling systems are the unique rational solution to signalling games.485. The dynamical systems investigated in Sections 4. Therefore. To advance this point. Downloaded from http://bjps. he developed an equilibrium reﬁnement that he called a proper coordination equilibrium.737> and I(m2) ¼ <À0. messages carry partial information about the state. the messages reveal some information. for example common knowledge that every player expects every other player to conform to the equilibrium. Solving for the quantity of information in both messages conﬁrms this fact. m1 is more likely to be sent when s1 is the case. this mixture of sending strategies does communicate some information. and 6 never reach pure strategy states and never reach equilibrium. the information conveyed by the signals is always partial. the signals carry some information. 5. Neither signal rules out either state. but since. In the standard Lewis signalling game.485>.119.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 553 Information transfer here is not perfect. To put an English gloss on the signals.

S) ¼ u(M. Proposition 5. The story behind it is as follows. then (as Át is taken to zero) the continuous time dynamic equation becomes Â Ã _ i ¼ xi ðAxÞi À x Á Ax x Downloaded from http://bjps. so that the ﬂuctuations in each strategy’s frequency within the population is just given by the rates at which the users of each strategy reproduce. or (2) u(S. Maynard Smith and Price ([1973]) proposed a reﬁnement. each individual produces offspring which faithfully inherit their parent’s strategy. the ﬁtness of type i is just (Ax)i where A is the payoff matrix of the game and x is a vector in which the j-th component gives the frequency of type j in the population. There is a large population of individuals and each individual uses the same pure strategy throughout her lifetime. When the game is asymmetric. Wagner process of frequency dependent selection? Since Lewis wrote Convention.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. If we assume that in time Át each individual spawns (Ax)iÁt additional individuals. This section describes two such methods—evolutionarily stable strategies and the replicator dynamic—and their applications to Lewis signalling games. This poor performance would drive the mutants extinct. S) and u(S. The replicator dynamic. a strategy S is evolutionarily stable if for any other strategy M either: (1) u(S. this notion of an ESS is equivalent to that of a strict Nash equilibrium (Weibull [1997]. is a simple model of an asexually reproducing population. Additionally.oxfordjournals. The second triumph of evolutionary game theory applied to Lewis signalling games originated from theories of adaptive dynamics. Wa ¨ rneryd ([1993]) and Skyrms ([1996]) noted that the only evolutionarily stable states of Lewis signalling games are the separating equilibria. there have been methods developed to address these questions. M) where u(a. M) > u(M. of Nash equilibria inspired by biological explanations of the ‘limited wars’ seen in animal conﬂicts.554 Elliott O. More precisely. which was introduced by Taylor and Jonker ([1978]). In other words. called an evolutionarily stable strategy or ESS.1). a small number of mutants would always do worse against the population than the dominant type. An ESS is a strategy such that if the entire population played it. S) > u(M. b) is the payoff received by the player of strategy a when matched against a player of strategy b. the simplest assumption is that the ﬁtness of each strategy type is just that type’s expected payoff when matched against a randomly chosen member of the population. then we see that meaning will evolve in Lewis signalling games. If we buy Maynard Smith and Price’s supposition that biological systems will be found in equilibrium at an ESS. S). 2013 . This was the ﬁrst triumph of evolutionary game theory as applied to Lewis signalling games. Since this is a game dynamic.

These individuals revise by picking a player at random and then imitating this player’s strategy only if this player’s expected payoff is higher than her own and carrying out this imitation with probability proportional to the payoff difference. As time passes. The two population replicator dynamic. if the states are not equiprobable then there is a nonnegligible chance that the system will evolve to a pooling equilibrium in which there is no information transfer. there is a non-negligible chance that the system will evolve to a pooling equilibrium in which some information is conveyed by the . suppose there are one or more large populations of individuals. As before. The replicator dynamic carries the system to a separating equilibrium. 2013 In the multi-population replicator dynamic. Propostion 5. Huttegger ([2007]) provided an analytic proof of the same fact with respect to the replicator dynamic: almost all initial population states evolve to separating equilibria. is given by the differential equations Â Ã _ i ¼ xi ðAyÞi À x Á Ay x h i _ j ¼ yj ðBxÞj À y Á Bx y Downloaded from http://bjps. Bjo ¨ rnerstedt and Weibull [1996]. One such model works as follows. meaning and perfect information transfer is guaranteed to spontaneously emerge under the discrete-time replicator dynamic. For example. In fact.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 555 This dynamic has a tight connection to Maynard Smith and Price’s evolutionarily stable states: any ESS is an attractor of the one-population replicator dynamic. generates the replicator dynamic as its aggregate behaviour. e. it surely provides a natural starting point for investigation. Skyrms ([1996]) observed that every computer simulation of a population playing the standard Lewis signalling game with two states and evolving according to the discrete-time replicator dynamic converges to a separating equilibrium. called pairwise proportional imitation by Schlag ([1998]).org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. Schlag [1998]). individuals are randomly offered opportunities to adjust their strategies. Additionally. The derivation of the replicator dynamic can be extended to asymmetric games by increasing the number of populations (with one population for each player role). Although the replicator dynamic may not be the whole story on either biological or cultural evolution. Figure 4 illustrates this creation of information.g.7 7 This brief survey of the dynamics of signalling games necessarily obscures many interesting complications. the replicator dynamic is also often employed to model social learning and cultural evolution. which is used extensively throughout the sections below. In addition to its popularity as a simple model of biological evolution. In other words. many different models of social learning have been shown to yield the replicator dynamic (see. Binmore et al.oxfordjournals. and along the way the messages gain informational content. [1995]. if there are more than two states.13). a state is asymptotically stable if and only if it is a strict Nash equilibrium (Weibull [1997]. This imitation protocol.

For explorations of these and other issues.oxfordjournals. there is reason to suspect that senders and receivers rarely have identical interests. 4 Signalling Games with Opposing Interests The standard Lewis signalling that’s been under consideration thus far presumes a very strong common interest. Wagner [2009]. This strong common interest is readily evident in the state-act payoffs shown in Table 1. But there is no reason to suppose that real-life communication interactions are like this. Barrett and Zollman [2009]. . The only ESSs are separating equilibria. but that two or more states are pooled together. and three-action Lewis signalling game. Huttegger et al.556 KL m1 1.5 Downloaded from http://bjps. 2013 10 20 30 40 50 t Figure 4.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. We see how it is that terms can naturally acquire semantic meaning through a mindless process of biological evolution or cognitively naı ¨ve social learning. Skyrms [2010]). see (Huttegger [2007]. at least when the two parties share an interest in communicating. three-message. Think of bacteria sending signals that cause their neighbours to produce and secrete an extracellular enzyme that digests protein so that the bacteria can consume the digested nutrients. Pawlowitsch [2008]. [2010]. the replicator dynamic guarantees convergence to these separating equilibria. Wagner 1. A bacterium sending the signal has an opportunity to freeride by inducing his neighbour to pay the metabolic cost for creating the enzyme but then reaping the reward of absorbing the nutrients (Keller and messages.0 0. Both players receive identical payoffs in each state–act combination (these state–act combinations are the leaves of the extensive-form game tree). And in two-state games with equiprobable states. So things look pretty good for the evolution or emergence of meaning in standard Lewis signalling games. In fact. The creation of information by the replicator dynamic in a three-state.5 Elliott O.

Interests here are as opposed as possible. À1 a3 1. 1 1. the display is sometimes considered a paradigm example of a deceptive signal (Searcy and Nowicki [2005]. Since pure strategies in a signalling game are functions mapping states to messages and messages to actions and there are 33 ¼ 27 such functions. À1 . For one. À a2 .Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 557 Table 2. senders may gain by displaying a larger bib than they deserve (Rohwer [1975]). A state–act payoff matrix for a modiﬁed version of a Lewis signalling game with totally opposed payoffs a1 À1. 4). but the state–act payoffs are altered so that the game is zero-sum. some features of the game are easy to see. À À1. In any case. 2013 In fact. Since more dominant sparrows have increased access to food and mates. 1 s1 s2 s3 These state–act payoffs yield a zero-sum signalling game. This parameter determines the payoffs in the state–act outcomes that are intermediate between a win and a loss for both players. 1 1. ch. Here’s why: Imagine that the sender and receiver have adopted a perfectly communicative 8 Downloaded from http://bjps. Any gain by the sender is a loss to the receiver and vice versa. and three-act signalling game. In the next section. Lewis’s signalling systems) are not Nash equilibria. But despite the high dimensionality of the state space. each player’s strategy space is the 26-dimensional simplex Á27. and three-act Lewis signalling game. In this article. three-message.8 Or think of Harris sparrows that signal their position in the dominance hierarchy by the size of their black chest markings. Or think of used car salesmen. separating strategies (i. The state–act payoff is shown in Table 2. For this reason.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. then the sender reaps some reward at the receiver’s expense.e. Since this is a three-state. À À1. À1 . Surette [2006]). when their exoskeleton is still hardening and their ﬁghting ability is dramatically diminished. I investigate an extreme form of opposed interests. If ¼ 0. three-message. But when > 0. The setup is the same as a three-state. Signalers may gain by signalling an exaggerated ﬁghting ability. the players’ strategy spaces are fairly complex.oxfordjournals. I explore the dynamics of this game as this parameter is varied. . stomatopods continue to perform ‘meral spread’ displays even after a molt. Or think of stomatopods settling conﬂicts over nesting areas by displaying colored spots on the undersides of their raptorial appendages (Dingle [1969]). Notice that this state–act payoff has a parameter . there is no a priori reason to assume the interests of potential communicators must be aligned. then neither player does better than the other in these outcomes. which can range from 0 to 1.

Since the sender has an incentive to deviate from any separating proﬁle. It is also easy to see that this game has many Nash equilibria. then the receiver would be able to use that information to increase her odds of choosing the action that she most prefers for that state. we know that the .558 Elliott O.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. Consequently. And the receiver always chooses action a1 regardless of the message received. but the sender would prefer that the receiver perform action a3 in state s1. Therefore. 2013 5 Dynamics of Zero-Sum Signalling Games As reviewed in Section 3 above. What happens to the dynamics when the players are playing the game of completely conﬂicting interests described above in Section 4? Immediately. messages sent in equilibrium must not be informative. conventional wisdom says that communication is impossible. And when interests are totally opposed (as in this zero-sum signalling interaction). Another fact is that the Nash equilibria of this game consist of strategy proﬁles in which the messages do not carry useful information. Suppose this strategy proﬁle stipulates sending message m1 when s1 occurs and performing action a1 upon receipt of message m1. when interests slightly diverge.oxfordjournals. no separating strategy proﬁle can be a Nash equilibrium. the replicator dynamic always carries populations playing a standard Lewis signalling game to an equilibrium. any increase in expected payoff for the receiver is a decrease to the expected payoff for the sender. researchers must hypothesize mechanisms (e. But standard Lewis signalling games are games of common interest. This situation is great from the receiver’s point of view (she earns her highest payoff when performing a1 in s1). This is a Nash equilibrium because neither player has an incentive to deviate. once we look beyond static equilibrium analysis we see that adaptive dynamics can allow persistent information transfer. The sender doesn’t have such an incentive because her messages are ignored. If the messages were informative. The sender always sends messages m1 regardless of the state that obtains. signal cost or reputation in repeated interactions) that make deception too costly to pay off. Wagner signalling system strategy proﬁle. For example here’s one. Separating proﬁles are not Nash equilibria and at Nash equilibria signals do not transmit information. Downloaded from http://bjps. But this judgement is too quick. But since this game is zero-sum.g. Consequently. the sender has an incentive to deviate from this strategy proﬁle so that in s1 she sends whichever message causes the receiver to perform a3. As is shown below. And the receiver has no incentive because the messages don’t carry any information about the state of the world. It is for this reason that researchers interested in the theoretical foundations of strategic signalling have thought that communication is impossible in zero-sum games. The reason is easy to see.

If the sender and receiver use a signalling system strategy proﬁle.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning S1 : s1 s2 s3 S2 : s1 s2 s3 S3 : s1 s2 s3 m1 m2 m3 m1 m2 m3 m1 m2 m3 R1 : m1 m2 m3 R2 : m1 m2 m3 R3 : m1 m2 m3 a1 a2 a3 a1 a2 a3 a1 a2 a3 559 Downloaded from http://bjps. The frequencies of each type in a population must sum to one. 2013 Figure 5. the interior of phase space is a combination of the behaviours on the faces.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. Additionally. the whole system is 4-dimensional. S2. the replicator dynamics live in the 52-dimensional space Á27 Â Á27. So to get a handle on the dynamics. are half of a fully communicative signalling system. Since both the sender and receiver choose from 33 ¼ 27 strategies. Thus. because the dynamic is smooth. . S3 and R1. replicator dynamic cannot converge to a stable state in which the messages convey information. so the behaviour of these smaller systems remains the same as it is in the larger system. Unfortunately it is difﬁcult to analyze this high-dimensional space directly.5). then action ai is always performed in state si. R2. Faces are forward-invariant under the replicator dynamic. But since this is a zero-sum game. Remember from the payoffs in the signalling game with totally opposed interests (shown in Table 2). Proposition 3.9 Each of these strategies. which are labeled S1. So by analyzing the dynamics in these smaller faces we can gain insight into the behaviour of the entire 52-dimensional system. This is because the replicator dynamic only converges to Nash equilibria (Weibull [1997]. and we know from Section 4 that Nash equilibria here are states in which the messages are necessarily meaningless. Let’s start by considering the 4-dimensional space (Á3 Â Á3) composed of the sending and receiving strategies shown in Figure 5. R3 for convenience. The three sending and three receiving strategies that yield rock–paper– scissors payoffs in the signalling game with the state–act payoffs shown in Table 2. that this guarantees the receiver’s preferred payoff. any gain by the receiver is a loss to the 9 This space is 4-dimensional because it contains two populations of three types each. so each population lives on a 2-dimensional simplex.oxfordjournals. But what about out-of-equilibrium information transfer? This section will explore the out-of-equilibrium behaviour of this signalling game. let’s start by looking at the behaviour on some lower dimensional faces of the entire phase space.

1 S1 S2 S3 These are the payoffs of a two player asymmetric rock–paper–scissors game. But if the receiver plays R1. and thus any particular orbit can be either chaotic or quasi-periodic.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. À 1. À1 À1. 1 . but the upshot is that these six strategies lead to best-response cycles like the following: Suppose the sender plays S1. À1 À1. the behaviour of the two population replicator dynamic in this exact rock–paper–scissors game has been studied by Sato et al. Such best response cycles are the hallmark of rock–paper–scissors. the receiver’s best response is to play R3. if we assume that the three states of nature are equiprobable. 2013 sender. Strogatz ([1994]) deﬁnes chaos as ‘aperiodic long-term behaviour in a deterministic system that exhibits sensitive dependence on initial conditions’. À 1. The above description is a little dense. In fact. it is so complex that for certain parameter values the system exhibits Hamiltonian chaos. This game has a single Nash equilibrium. This resulting normal form game is shown in Table 3. To get a feel for the dynamics. then the sender would prefer to use the sending strategy SiÀ1. This system (described in detail below) fulﬁlls all three criteria and is additionally Hamiltonian (Hofbauer [1996]). the sender’s best response is to play S3. but in a fairly representative quote. ([2002]). Then the receiver’s best response is to play R1. . if the receiver is using one of the strategies Ri in Figure 5. see (Skyrms [1992]). At this equilibrium both players mix uniformly over their three strategies. The normal form game that results from taking the expected payoffs to the strategies shown in Figure 5 when the three states of nature are equiprobable R1 À1. But if the sender plays S3. Wagner Table 3.560 Elliott O. Hamiltonian systems have no attractors. Since this system is 4-dimensional it is difﬁcult to visualize. Downloaded from http://bjps. À R3 . All numerical integrations are performed using Mathematica’s fourth-order symplectic partitioned Runge Kutta method. 1 . I will numerically integrate11 some initial conditions for various 10 11 To my knowledge. The sender would prefer that action aiÀ1 be performed in state si. Indeed. And so on. then the normal form game yielded by the expected payoffs of the extensive form signalling game is exactly rock–paper– scissors. Therefore. ([2002]) were the ﬁrst to note Hamiltonian chaos in the replicator dynamic. These authors found that the resulting dynamical system is incredibly complex. Sato et al. À1 R2 1.10 There is no universally accepted deﬁnition of dynamical chaos.oxfordjournals. Such a strategy proﬁle will guarantee the sender her most preferred outcome. For strange attractors in the one population replicator dynamic. Conveniently.

5. 0. x2.25) when ¼ 0. y2. y3) ¼ (0.01.0. y1.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 561 Figure 6. 2013 Figure 7. x3. This trajectory is quasi-periodic. 0. The time series demonstrate that the ﬂuctuations in population frequencies appear aperiodic and unpredictable.25. 0. 0. The evolution of the two populations beginning from the starting state (x1. This initial condition leads what looks to be a quasi-period trajectory. 0. which make the quasiperiodic structure of the orbit quite conspicuous. But by increasing this orbit’s structure appears to change. x2.5. Two time series illustrating the evolution of the initial condition (x1. y1.25) when ¼ 0.0. One way to visualize these solutions is to look at time-series data. Downloaded from http://bjps. y2.oxfordjournals.49. So it is possible to chart the movement of the population states on two 2-dimensional simplexes (one for each population).01. These charts. 0.49. A three-strategy population lives on the 2-dimensional simplex Á3. values of . are shown in Figure 7. Figure 6 shows the evolution of the population frequencies of one initial condition when ¼ 0. x3. 0.5. Another way to visualize the system follows from the fact that it is composed of two populations. y3) ¼ (0. 0.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. each with three strategies.5. This orbit is quasi-periodic.5. And the charts showing the . 0. Figure 8 shows the system’s behaviour starting from the same initial condition but with ¼ 0. 0.25.0.

. y2 . 25.5. These images show the points where the trajectories originating from these twenty-ﬁve initial conditions intersect the hyperplane x2 À x1 + y2 À y1 ¼ 0. these Poincare trajectories collapse and become chaotic. 0:01k. 0:5 À 0:01k. when > 0 it is easy to see the creation of chaotic orbits. The evolution of the system beginning from the initial condition (x1. 0. However. these numerical integrations indicate that the system is not chaotic.25.5. These features suggest that this same initial condition leads to a chaotic trajectory with ¼ 0. 0:25. 2013 Figure 8. This orbit is chaotic. . . y3) ¼ (0.00.562 Elliott O. As is ´ sections show that some quasi-period varied from 0 to 0. Figure 9 shows three Poincare for the values ¼ 0. 0:5. 0. and the initial conditions ðx1 . 0.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. ([2002]). 2. The trajectories appear to be quasi-periodic. 0:25Þ with k ¼ 1. 0. evolution of the two populations no longer exhibit regular quasi-periodic structure. x3 . . y1.49. . y1 . these chaotic trajectories cover a larger region of strategy space than their 12 This particular hyperplane was chosen due to the fact that all of these twenty-ﬁve orbits intersect it. As is shown in Figure 9 below. 0. ´ sections allow us to get another look at the dynamics of this Poincare ´ sections system.12 When ¼ 0.25. x2. Instead.oxfordjournals.25) when ¼ 0.5.5.01. the population frequencies look like they meander randomly over the entire simplexes.5. 0. 0. Following Sato et al.5. y3 Þ ¼ ð0:5. y2. x3. Wagner Downloaded from http://bjps. but it is not unique in this respect. x2 .

25.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. These maps show that as is increased quasi-period orbits become chaotic.0.5.oxfordjournals.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 563 Downloaded from http://bjps. 0. 0. . 2013 ´ sections at x2 À x1 + y2 À y1 ¼ 0 for the 4-dimensional face conFigure 9. Moving from the top downwards are the maps for the system with parameter ¼ 0. Poincare sisting of the six strategies shown in Figure 5.

0. An orbit has as many Lyapunov exponents as the dynamical system has dimensions.4 +16.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1.5. y1.4 +0. 0.4 +0. .2 À27.4 À16.5. 3. These Lyapunov exponents are shown in boldface.5 +0. x3. 0.4 À0.3 À0.3 À0. quasi-periodic and chaotic orbits are ﬁnely interwoven.3 À0.3 À0.4 +28.0 +0. An indication of the accuracy of these numerical computations can be obtained in two ways. 5 0.3 À0.0 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 k¼1 +1. Lyapunov exponents for ﬁve initial conditions are shown in Table 4 for each of ¼ 0.1 5 +0.25 and ¼ 0.4 À35.1 À0. 0.1 +0.3 À0. 4.4 +0. y3) ¼ (0.25) with k ¼ 1.2 +0. And.25.2 +35. To numerically demonstrate that these orbits are in fact chaotic.2 À0.01k.0. quasi-periodic counterparts.000 with an accuracy of 10À11.25.9 4 +0. The positive Lyapunov exponents indicate chaotic trajectories. 0.5 À 0. it is possible to compute their Lyapunov exponents. Integration was performed to t ¼ 10.2 À0.3 0.5 À61.4 +0. y2. Lyapunov exponents quantify this sensitivity. A positive Lyapunov exponent indicates a direction of local exponential expansion.2 À0.2 +0.3 À0. meaning that a quasi-periodic orbit can be found arbitrarily close to any chaotic orbit (Lichtenberg and Lieberman [1983]). A system exhibits sensitive dependence on initial conditions if the distance between the trajectories originating from one point and another inﬁnitesimally close to it increase exponentially with time.2 À0. 2.50 Downloaded from http://bjps. 0.9 +0.3 À0. 2013 The Lyapunov exponents in this chart have been multiplied by 103. Wagner Table 4.1 +0.8 +49. 13 All Lyapunov exponents were computed in Mathematica using an algorithm adapted from Sandri ([1996]). A negative Lyapunov exponent indicates a direction of local exponential contraction.5 +0.01k.1 À12.4 +12. Lyapunov exponents () for the initial conditions (x1.5 À0.6 À0.4 +0.4 +0.25 0.3 À0. x2.0 +0.7 3 +0.564 Elliott O. A positive Lyapunov exponent is one of the hallmarks of a chaotic orbit (see Strogatz [1994] for an introduction to Lyapunov exponents).13 These exponents can be thought of as generalizations of the eigenvalues of the Jacobian matrix of a system that remain well deﬁned for chaotic dynamics.3 À0.4 +0.4 2 +1. 0.4 +34.oxfordjournals.4 À1.0 À0.1 À35.1 +61.2 À49.5. The largest Lyapunov exponent is clearly positive for some of the orbits when ¼ 0. as is expected by systems exhibiting Hamiltonian chaos. This presents very strong numerical evidence that the orbits are indeed chaotic.3 À0.4 À0.2 À0.4 +0.4 +0.5.

Sato et al. Since the payoff matrices are identical. This intuition is conﬁrmed by the computation of the orbit’s Lyapunov exponents.0014 (a spurious zero). And the other twenty-four receiving strategies are each initialized with frequency 1=2400. we can numerically integrate the evolution of individual initial conditions and can compute Lyapunov exponents. as before.25. the second and third exponents should sum to zero. and . When paired against each other these other six separating strategies form best-response cycles just like those we’ve been investigating thus far. .24. The highest exponent is .oxfordjournals. But. computed these same Lyapunov exponents and their results match my own at least to a factor of 10À4.5.5.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1.0 to 0. And taking the expected payoffs to these other six strategies yields a normal form representation that is identical to the one shown in Table 3. 2013 The three sending strategies from Figure 5 have frequencies 0. The trajectory’s aperiodic behaviour is demonstrated by the seemingly random jumps in frequency.5. ([2002]). The three receiving strategies from Figure 5 have frequencies 0. it is possible to compare the computed values with some general facts about the Lyapunov exponents of Hamiltonian systems. This is true of these calculated exponents up to 10À4. it is obviously difﬁcult to visualize. the dynamics of this 4-dimensional system are incredibly complex. Figure 10 shows the behaviour of an initial condition that is inside the interior of phase space but is near its boundary14 (the three signalling system strategies from above dominate the population). and 0. On the other hand. 0. And.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 565 First. as before. It’s clear from the time series that these orbits are quasi-periodic. Figure 11 shows the evolution of the same initial condition when is increased from 0.1k.49 À . Additionally. by comparison with the results of Sato et al. The other 24 sending strategies are each initialized with frequency 1=2400. the dynamics on this other four dimension face will also be identical. Since volume is conserved in Hamiltonian systems and the Lyapunov exponents measure the expansion and contraction of an orbit. Consequently. Since movement inside the interior of the system is determined by movement on the faces. . sensitive dependence on initial conditions is demonstrated by running the numerical integration and then taking a second point that is very close to the current location of the ﬁrst trajectory (the ﬁrst sending strategy is increased in frequency by 10À6 and the other twenty-six sending strategies are decreased 14 Downloaded from http://bjps. the dynamics of the entire 52-dimensional system must be very complex indeed! Since the entire system is very high dimensional. And these three sending and three receiving strategies represent only half of the signalling system strategies available to the players in the full signalling game. the entire phase space has two disjoint 4-dimensional faces that display chaotic behaviour.01k. these Lyapunov exponents should sum to zero. This is also true up to 10À4. So. Second. The four frequencies shown in these time series are the ﬁrst four signalling system strategies from Figure 5.

The strategies shown are the ﬁrst two sending strategies and ﬁrst two receiving strategies from Figure 5. .4 0. The strategies shown are the ﬁrst two sending strategies and ﬁrst two receiving strategies from Figure 5.8 0.4 0. Figure 11. 2013 0.566 x6 1.5 and k ¼ 1.2 0 x16 1.6 0.2 0.2 0 50 100 150 200 t 0 50 100 150 200 t Figure 10.6 0. This trajectory is quasi-periodic. Wagner y6 1.0 50 100 150 200 t 0.4 0.0 50 100 150 200 t 0 y16 1.0 Elliott O.2 0.4 0. Charts showing the evolution of the initial condition described in footnote 14 when ¼ 0.8 0.8 Downloaded from http://bjps.6 0.6 0.oxfordjournals. Charts showing the evolution of the initial condition described in footnote 14 when ¼ 0.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1.0 and k ¼ 1.0 0.8 0.

the intuition that this orbit is chaotic is conﬁrmed through the numerical calculation of its Lyapunov exponents.7 k¼2 1.8 This Lyapunov exponents in this chart have been multiplied by 103. Instead. which is clearly positive and an indication of chaos. These exponents are shown in boldface.0 0. indicating local exponential expansion. Lyapunov exponents are more systematically calculated for three initial conditions as is varied in Table 5. The positive Lyapunov exponents indicate chaotic trajectories. As demonstrated in Figure 12.50 max max max k¼1 1. And again.0688.44 30. Just as was found on the system’s 4-dimensional rock–paper–scisssors faces. uniformly to compensate). the dynamics of the signalling game with totally opposed interests never brings the populations to equilibrium.98 46.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 567 Figure 12.3 11.9 k¼3 1. The strategies shown are the ﬁrst sending strategy and ﬁrst receiving strategy from Figure 5.7 38.5.25 0. Downloaded from http://bjps. several of these initial conditions lead to chaotic trajectories (as indicated by their positive Lyapunov exponents) as is increased from 0. The dashed line shows the evolution of an alternative initial condition taken by slightly perturbing the original orbit at t ¼ 150.oxfordjournals. 3 0.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. These charts illustrate the sensitive dependence on initial conditions when ¼ 0.4 69. The solid line shows the evolution of the initial condition described above.85 15. This section explores this fact’s consequences for the possibility of communication in zero-sum games. 2013 Table 5. The largest exponent is 0.0 to 0. . The two initial conditions diverge very quickly. In summary.5. 2. The maximal Lyapunov exponents (max) for the initial conditions described in footnote 14 with k ¼ 1. 6 Deterministic Chaos and Information Transfer The previous section showed that the dynamics of the signalling game with opposed interests can be chaotic. the populations remain out-of-equilibrium in either quasi-periodic or chaotic orbits.

483.013. orbits traverse phase space indeﬁnitely. For example. at t ¼ 10 the information content vector of signal m1 is <0. This means that states s2 and s3 are likely when m1 is sent. the second and third entries are positive. The ﬁrst entry is negative. But the dynamics here do not bring the system to equilibrium. Trajectories in this system clearly do not converge to equilibria. Instead we must look for information transfer along these non-convergent trajectories. This is because state s1 is unlikely to be the case given that the signal m1 is sent. The system has no attractors. But because the state never reaches any of the equilibria. the messages do indeed transfer information. This information ﬂuctuation of signal m1 is shown in Figure 13. Instead of approaching a rest point. as the system evolves. we can simply apply the information-theoretic account of meaning developed by Skyrms ([2010]) (as outlined in Section 2 above). the fact that messages in equilibrium do not transmit information is irrelevant. the information content vector of signal m1 is approximately <À4.54>.503 and Pr(s3Wm1) & 0. Wagner Recall that the equilibria of this game are uncommunicative.oxfordjournals. None of the components of this vector are À1. But just the same. 2013 .23>. so none of the states are ruled out by the signal. The English gloss for this information content vector would be something like ‘probably not s3’. To put an English gloss on the information content one might say that signal m1 indicates something along the lines of ‘probably not s1’.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. At the initial conditions speciﬁed above in footnote 14 with k ¼ 1. 0.64.64. to investigate out-of-equilibrium information transfer here.568 Elliott O. but the messages never cease to transmit information. messages sent by players at an equilibrium necessarily do not convey information. That is. as the dynamics unwind. 0. And indeed they are. Recall that the trajectory beginning at this initial condition is chaotic. the system’s state wanders unpredictably throughout phase space. One branch of literature (see Fudenberg and Levine [1998]) downplays the importance of non-convergent dynamics by arguing that learning or evolutionary models Downloaded from http://bjps. 0.42. What is important is that although the system is not in equilibrium and although the messages may not perfectly communicate the state. The values are Pr(s2Wm1) & 0. Consequently. But once again the gloss is not too important. this partial communication is not eliminated. Furthermore.59. At some times the messages may be more informative than at other times. the messages never lose all meaning. But the English gloss is not the important point here. À3. the signal does convey information about the state. the meanings of the signals change. The value of Pr(s1Wm1) is approximately 0. Fortunately. And as the state evolves the information content of the messages changes. Therefore. On the other hand. What is important is that the signal still conveys information and.

Along orbits with a positive Lyapunov exponent. when learning models fail to converge. since this is a signalling game. that fail to converge are not plausible models of natural behaviour. for this reason we are not convinced that models of cycles in learning are useful descriptions of actual behaviour. The importance of the chaotic trajectories in this system is that it makes such pattern learning and exploitation impossible. the players may ignore the fact that the model is locked in to a persistent cycle. Once the pattern is learned. local expansion is exponential. The quantity of information conveyed by signal m1 (as measured by the Kullback–Leibler divergence) as the system evolves from t ¼ 0 to 150.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning KL m1 569 0.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. The sensitive dependence of meaning on initial conditions and the impossibility of the prediction of the future informational content of a signal .4 0.oxfordjournals. it is impossible to predict the future meaning or information content of the messages.5 and the initial conditions are given in footnote 14 above. In particular.8 0. ¼ 0. This makes prediction impossible because any slight error in estimation of the state’s current position will be magniﬁed exponentially.2 Downloaded from http://bjps. the agents will eventually use more sophisticated inference rules that detect them. the agent will be able to exploit it. We suspect that if the cycles persist long enough. This exploitation will break the cycles and (arguably) drive the system to equilibrium. p. For example: Our argument here is that the learning models that have been studied so far do not do full justice to the ability of people to recognize patterns of behaviour by others.6 0. 2013 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 t Figure 13. for example. the behaviour of the model’s individuals is typically quite naive. Consequently. 3) The thought is that actors with even crude abilities to learn will ﬁgure out when their opponents are choosing their strategies according to a pattern. (Fudenberg and Levine [1998]. Logarithms are taken to base 2 so information transmission is measured in bits.

8 0.oxfordjournals. ¼ 0. the out-ofequilibrium play and the partial information transmitted by the messages are both sustained indeﬁnitely.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1.2 Downloaded from http://bjps. these signals qualify as deception according to all information-based accounts of deception.16 Suppose the system is in the state described above in which the information content vector of signal m1 is <À4.15 Therefore. This chart shows the quantity of information conveyed by signal m1 along two nearby trajectories. 0. Wagner 0. ([2002]). One could call this sort of partial communication when interests conﬂict an example of deception.570 KL m1 1. 2013 200 220 240 260 280 300 320 t Figure 14.4 0. Many of the signals sent in the system described here ﬁt this description of deception. (2) The receiver responds in such a way that (a) Beneﬁts the signaler and (b) Is appropriate if Y means X. 15 16 This argument is made with respect to chaotic dynamics in the rock–paper–scissors game by Sato et al.64. The dashed line shows information from an orbit with the initial conditions given by slightly perturbing the location of the ﬁrst orbit in phase space at t ¼ 180. If prediction of the future state and message meaning is impossible.0 Elliott O. . The solid line shows information from the orbit beginning at the initial conditions above.6 0. and (3) It is not true that X is the case. is illustrated in Figure 14. The English gloss for this vector would be something like ‘s1 is probably not the case’. then it is also impossible to use historical information about past play to exploit the receiver’s behaviour.59. See (Skyrms [2010]). Searcy and Nowicki ([2005]) say deception occurs when (1) A receiver registers something Y from a signaler.5. In fact. An illustration of the sensitivity of meaning on initial conditions.54>. 0.

The occurrence of chaos in such a simple signalling game suggests that one ought not assume that real people or real biological organisms will learn or evolve to play Nash equilibrium strategies. And the receiver’s action is appropriate if s1 is not the case. this means that. Suppose Nature ﬂips its fair coin and the state of the world is s1.Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning 571 But all strategy types are present in this population. if the sender has nothing to gain by conveying information to the receiver. researchers have overlooked another explanation of the emergence of communication: non-convergent adaptive dynamics. By focusing on static analysis. This ﬁts the above deﬁnition of deception. But due to the sustained out-of-equilibrium behaviour. 2013 7 Conclusion It is tempting to think that meaningful communication requires the sender and receiver in a signalling interaction to share some overlapping common interest. information transfer is made possible and deception comes along with it.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. informative communication can be sustained in zero-sum games in which messages are free and the actor’s interests are totally opposed. contrary to common wisdom. These researchers have focused on the equilibria of signalling games (either simple Nash equilibria or a reﬁnement like ESS). so standard equilibrium analysis would predict that deception is impossible in this zero-sum signalling game. The dynamical system investigated above shows that even in the worst case for communication—a zero-sum strategic interaction—information . life is not always lived at an equilibrium. the commonsense intuition here is that the threat of deception will drive the system to an uncommunicative equilibrium. But what is notable about this system isn’t that deception occurs.oxfordjournals. why should we think that she will send meaningful messages? And this commonsense hypothesis has been conﬁrmed by scientists and philosophers seeking to understand strategic communication from a game theoretic point of view. In fact. However. And in signalling games this means that partial information transfer can be sustained indeﬁnitely in out-ofequilibrium play. After all. the sender beneﬁts from this encounter. Deception is parasitic upon information transfer. Downloaded from http://bjps. and their static equilibrium analysis seems to have vindicated common wisdom. so there exists a small quantity of senders who always send signal m1 regardless of the true state of the world. There is no information transfer at this game’s equilibria. Furthermore. messages in these equilibria do not transmit any information. What’s important is that any information transfer is happening at all. The equilibria of games when interests totally oppose are indeed uncommunicative. This sender then sends message m1 which indicates s1 is not the case even though it is the true state of the world. Consider such a sender matched with a receiver who performs a3 upon receipt of m1. And furthermore.

at least when the quantity of information is spelled out as the Kullback–Leiber divergence. At the ESS of signalling games. Wagner transmission is sustained indeﬁnitely by the replicator dynamic. agents have to ﬁnd their ways to equilibria. static analysis is of no use in understanding the system before it gets there. So we see how communication can be maintained by non-convergent. information transfer is often perfect. Real-life agents do not only play equilibria. This ﬁnding—that partial communication with costless messages can be sustained when interests are totally opposed—has two important consequences for research into the game theoretic foundations of communication. Any perturbation to the system or any agent with a little talent for pattern recognition would break the cycles and perhaps send the system to equilibrium. To understand the impact of partial information transfer. out-of-equilibrium play. Messages have meaning. 2013 . at least when meaning is cached out as informational content in the sense of Skyrms ([2010]). But the sort of communication that emerges is perhaps not what was expected. In contrast. Philosophers and scientists may have a tendency to think about meaning or communication as all or nothing. Nor do they conclusively ‘rule out’ any states. Sometimes they may not always make it. researchers need to look beyond separating equilibria to mixed strategies or polymorphic populations.org/ by Sandra Zuniga on January 1. the messages do not uniquely identify a single state of the world. But the unpredictability of deterministic chaos entails that such prediction is impossible. the system would not be a plausible model of robust out-of-equilibrium biological evolution or cultural learning. Second. that is. this research shows the importance of partial information transfer. they can inﬂuence the receiver’s actions (as above).e. the messages simply indicate that some states are more likely to have occurred than other states. If the trajectories formed closed periodic cycles or even easily predictable quasi-periodic orbits. But even if they do reach an equilibrium. i. Instead. Nonetheless. without precisely identifying a state or set of states. the message sent uniquely identiﬁes the state of nature. But information transmission cuts deeper than that. First. And the messages convey a positive quantity of information. it demonstrates the weakness of static equilibrium analysis as a methodology for understanding strategic communication. Downloaded from http://bjps. Thus. The key to the persistence of this out-of-equilibrium information transfer is deterministic chaos.572 Elliott O. And signals can be behaviourally important. Whether evolving or learning. static analysis necessarily leaves out part of the story.oxfordjournals. Signals can have informational content without perfectly communicating the state of nature. the out-of-equilibrium information transfer in the signalling game with totally opposed interests is not perfect. but it is not the precise information transfer that one ﬁnds at a separating equilibrium. This is true information transfer.

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