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Invited Talk
Workshop: Talking to Strangers: Zero-Shot Emergent Communication

Invited Talk 1: Ruth Byrne (TCD) - How people make inferences about other people's inferences

Ruth Byrne


I consider the sorts of models people construct to reason about other people’s thoughts based on several strands of evidence from cognitive science experiments. The first is from studies of how people think about decisions to cooperate or not with another person in various sorts of social interactions in which they must weigh their own self-interest against the common interest. I discuss results from well-known games such as the Prisoner’s dilemma, such as the finding that people who took part in the game imagine the outcome would have been different if a different decision had been made by the other player, not themselves. The second strand of evidence comes from studies of how people think about other people’s false beliefs. I discuss reasoning in change-of-intentions tasks, in which an observer who witnesses an actor carrying out an action forms a false belief about the reason. People appear to develop the skills to make inferences about other people’s false beliefs by creating counterfactual alternatives to reality about how things would have been. I consider how people construct models of other people’s thoughts, and consider the implications for how AI agents could construct models of other AI agents.