Abstract. We introduce a novel view on how to deal with the problems of semantic interoperability in distributed systems. This view is based on the concept of emergent semantics, which sees both the representation of semantics and the discovery of the proper interpretation of symbols as the result of a self-organizing process performed by distributed agents exchanging symbols and having utilities dependent on the proper interpretation of the symbols. This is a complex systems perspective on the problem of dealing with semantics. We highlight some of the distinctive features of our vision and point out preliminary examples of its application.