The shared workspace framework for dialogue and other cooperative joint activities

Martin J. Pickering, Simon Garrod

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

We present a theory of dialogue as a form of cooperative joint activity. Dialogue is treated as a system involving two interlocutors and a shared workspace that contains their contributions and relevant non-linguistic context. The interlocutors construct shared plans and use them to “post” contributions to the workspace, to comprehend joint contributions, and to distribute control of the dialogue between them. A fundamental part of this process is to simulate their partner’s contributions and to use it to predict the upcoming state of the shared workspace. As a consequence, they align their linguistic representations and their representations of the situation and of the “games” underlying successful communication. The shared workspace is a highly limited resource, and the interlocutors use their aligned representations to say just enough and to speak in good time. We describe how dialogue and cooperative joint activity can be brought together in situated communication, and then sketch some implications of our account for human-like artificial systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman-like Machine Intelligence
EditorsStephen Muggleton, Nicholas Chater
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191895333
ISBN (Print)9780198862536
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • dialogue
  • shared workspace
  • production
  • comprehension
  • situation model
  • language
  • conversation
  • joint activity
  • alignment
  • prediction


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