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Archive for the ‘Embodiment and Minimal Cognition’ Category

Discussion: Dynamics, information, representation

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Reply here to provide your challenge to the speakers of the first day’s general discussion. This should take the form of: i) a tweet-like question (maximum of 144 characters) and ii) a follow up explanation, abstract or set of bullet points with a minimum of 150 words and maximum of 300, in the following format:

Group Name
Short description of challenge in bold
Content of the summary or abstract or bullet points


The origins and self-maintenance of representing

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Inman Harvey
Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics,
University of Sussex,

What is happening when a caveman paints a bison on the wall of a cave, and how does this relate to the spoken word ‘bison’? I shall be exploring the many different ways in which people — and potentially animals and robots — can represent things. I focus on the ways that representing is done, the ways that representations are used (by whom and for whom), as well as the nature of the representations themselves.
In many fields where explanations are in the form of mechanisms (including cognitive science and neuroscience), the metaphor of modules trading representations has been rife in recent years. I shall discuss where such metaphors are justified, and where they are philosophically flawed, perhaps symptomatic of crypto-Cartesianism.
We should celebrate the first caveman-artist, and similarly we should respect the challenge of creating robots that can autonomously perform similar acts of representing. I shall discuss what steps can be taken towards this.

Harvey, I., Di Paolo, E., Wood, R., Quinn, M, and E. A., Tuci, (2005).
Evolutionary Robotics: A new scientific tool for studying cognition.
Artificial Life, 11(1-2), pp. 79-98.

Harvey, I. (2008). Misrepresentations.
In S. Bullock, J. Noble, R. A. Watson, and M. A. Bedau (Eds.)
Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Artificial
Life, pp.227-233, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA

Presentation Slides [pdf]

Inman Harvey: The origins and self-maintenance of representing from eSMCs on Vimeo.

Information and dynamics in minimally-cognitive agents

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Randall Beer
Cognitive Science Program
School of Informatics and Computing
Indiana University

Whatever else they may be, the notions of information and dynamics are mathematical concepts grounded in information theory and dynamical systems theory, respectively. Too often, debates regarding these concepts misconstrue or completely ignore these mathematical underpinnings. As mathematical theories, they can be applied to any system that takes the proper form. Thus, they intrinsically make no scientific claim as to “what’s really going on” in a given system. The more interesting question is what kinds of insights and explanations do these different mathematical languages provide and, perhaps most importantly, how do these distinct explanations relate when both languages are applied to the same system? In this talk, I compare and contrast the explanations that arise from applying both information theory and dynamical systems theory to the analysis of an evolved model agent capable of a solving a simple relational categorization task.

Presentation Slides [pdf]


Randall Beer: Information and dynamics in minimally-cognitive agents from eSMCs on Vimeo.