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Posts Tagged ‘Talk’

Eye fixations and observer motion and their role in 3D perception

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Jan-Olof Eklundh
Centre for Autonomous Systems,
KTH Royal Institute of Technology,
Sweden

A human observer is constantly active, moving about in the world and shifting gaze while fixating different parts of the surrounding scene. Sometimes the movements are performed with an intent to acquire more information about some object or part of the scene that is of interest, but often there’s no direct relation between the motions and actions by the observer and what he/she is looking at. Nevertheless the motions and fixations performed always provide valuable information about the 3D structure of the world and not least about what possibly could constitute objects of interest.

These observations suggest that artificial systems – ‘seeing robots’ – should use similar approaches to perceive and act in their environment. In the talk I’ll discuss the role of monocular and binocular fixation in 3D perception by a robot vision system and how the fixation and body actions influence the ’understanding’ of the world. It will be shown that problems of e.g. figure-ground-segmentation that seem difficult in computer vision become easier when observer actions are taken into account. I’ll also show some examples of how we’ve implemented mechanisms of such types.

Jan-Olof Eklundh: “Eye fixation and observer motion and their role in 3D perception” from eSMCs on Vimeo.

On the role of embodiment in the emergence of cognition

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Rolf Pfeifer
AI Lab,
University of Zürich,
Switzerland

Traditionally, in robotics, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience, there has been a focus on the study of the control or the neural system itself. Recently there has been an increasing interest into the notion of embodiment in all disciplines dealing with intelligent behavior, including psychology, philosophy, and linguistics. In an embodied perspective, cognition is conceived as emergent from the interaction of brain, body, and environment, or more generally from the relation between physical and information (neural, control) processes. It can be shown, and this is one of the underlying assumptions of the eSMC project, that through the embodied interaction with the environment, in particular through sensory-motor coordination, information structure is induced in the sensory data, thus facilitating categorization, perception and learning. The patterns thus induced depend jointly on the morphology, the material characteristics, the action and the environment. Because biological systems are mostly “soft”, a new engineering discipline, “soft robotics”, has taken shape over the last few years. I will discuss the far-reaching implications of embodiment, in particular of having a soft body, on our view of the mind and human behavior in general: Cognition is no longer centralized in the brain, but distributed throughout the organism, functionality is “outsourced” to morphological and material properties of the organism, which requires an understanding of processes of self-organization. Because in “soft” systems part of the functionality is in the morphology and materials, there is no longer a clear separation between control and the to-be-controlled, which implies that we need to fundamentally re-think the notion of control. The ideas will all be illustrated with case studies from biology — humans and animals — and robotics and will be summarized as a set of four “message” for embodied systems.

Rolf Pfeifer: “On the role of embodiment in the emergence of cognition” from eSMCs on Vimeo.

Mind in life and life in mind

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Evan Thompson
Department of Philosophy,
University of Toronto,
Canada

The guiding idea of this talk is that living is sense-making in precarious conditions. The guiding question is whether living, so understood, is necessary for mind. Along the way I will review some of the main concepts of the enactive approach — autonomy, autopoiesis, sense-making, enaction — highlighting important advances and findings since the proposal of the enactive approach in The Embodied Mind (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1991). Attention will also be given to related developments, such as neurophenomenology, and to the broad philosophical question about the relationship between lived experience and the scientific study of lived experience — the motivating and animating question of The Embodied Mind.

(Revised) presentation slides (ppt)

Evan Thompson: “Mind in life and life in mind” from eSMCs on Vimeo.

Cognition at the crossroads: from embodied minds to thinking bodies

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Michael Wheeler
Department of Philosophy,
University of Stirling,
UK

Given the often impressive advances made by contemporary research within the embodied cognition paradigm, it is perhaps surprising that one of the most basic concepts that defines the field, namely that of embodiment itself, has not yet been articulated in a satisfactorily clear or precise manner. In an attempt to present the ‘state of the art’ with respect to this foundational issue, I shall begin by drawing a distinction between two broad notions of embodiment that are operative within embodied cognition research. According to the first notion, which I shall call implementational embodiment, the body is conceptualized as ‘no more than’ a bridge to new realizations of functionally specified cognitive architectures. To theorize in terms of implementational embodiment is to hold that the same mind might be embodied differently. According to the second notion of embodiment, which I shall call vital embodiment, bodily acts and structures make a nonsubstitutable contribution to cognition, with the precise nature of that contribution determined by certain local theoretical commitments and interests. To theorize in terms of vital embodiment is to hold that different bodies will think differently. Having positioned a number of alternative versions of embodied cognition research (e.g., enactivism, the extended mind) in relation to this distinction, I shall use the resulting analysis to say what kinds of considerations might lead us to choose between those alternatives. Finally, in a more speculative register, I shall endeavour to look to the future, by adapting and extending some work on embodiment from recent feminist phenomenological thinking in order to take us beyond the very distinction between implementational and vital materiality with which we began.

Presentation Slides [pptx]

Michael Wheeler: “Cognition at the crossroads: from embodied minds to thinking bodies” from eSMCs on Vimeo.

Extending sensorimotor contingencies to cognition

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Andreas Engel
Dept. of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany

In the cognitive sciences, we currently witness a “pragmatic turn” away from the traditional representation-centered framework towards a paradigm that focusses on understanding the intimate relation between cognition and action. Such an „action-oriented“ paradigm has earliest and most explicitly been developed in robotics, and has only recently begun to gain impact on cognitive psychology and neurobiology. The basic notion is that cognition should not be understood as a capacity of deriving world-models, which then might provide a “database” for thinking, planning and problem-solving. Rather, it is emphasized that cognitive processes are not only closely intertwined with action but that cognition can actually best be understood as “enactive“, as a form of practise itself. Cognition, on this account, is grounded in a pre-rational understanding of the world that is based on sensorimotor acquisition of real-life situations. control strategy. One key concept I will discuss is that of sensorimotor contingencies, i.e., law-like relations between actions and associated changes in sensory input. I will propose to advance this concept further and suggest that actions not only play a key role for perception, but also in developing more complex cognitive capabilities.

Andreas Engel: “Extending sensorimotor contingences to cognition” from eSMCs on Vimeo.

Embodiment and psychopathology

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Thomas Fuchs
Klinik für Allgemeine Psychiatrie, Zentrum für Psychosoziale Medizin,
Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg,
Germany

The talk first gives an overview on the phenomenological approach to embodiment in psychopathology, in particular on a polarity of ‘disembodiment’ and ‘hyperembodiment’ which is illustrated by the examples of schizophrenia and depression. Recent contributions to phenomenological accounts of these disorders are presented.

Second, the paper discusses the relationship of phenomenological and neuropsychiatric perspectives on embodiment. Embodied and ecological concepts of mental illness emphasize the circular interaction of altered subjective experience, disturbed social interactions and neurobiological dysfunctions in the development of the illness. Thus, phenomenological and enactive accounts of embodiment may be combined in order to overcome reductionist concepts that prevail in present psychiatry.

Thomas Fuchs: “Embodiment and psychopathology” from eSMCs on Vimeo.

Enactively extended intentionality

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Shaun Gallagher
Moss Chair of Excellence in Philosophy, University of Memphis, USA
Research Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science. University of Hertfordshire, UK

I argue that the extended mind hypothesis requires an enactive, neo-pragmatic concept of intentionality if it is to develop proper responses to a variety of objections.  This enactive concept of intentionality is based on the phenomenological concept of a bodily (or motor or operative) intentionality outlined by Husserl and Merleau-Ponty.  I explore the connections between this concept and recent embodied approaches to social cognition.


Shaun Gallagher: Enactively extended intentionality from eSMCs on Vimeo.

Deleuze’s contribution to an enactive approach to biology

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

John Protevi
Department of French Studies,
Lousiana State University,
USA

I will preface my presentation with a brief outline of the three-fold ontology of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995). Deleuze’s formula is that (1) intensive morphogenetic processes follow the structures inherent in (2) virtual differential multiplicities to produce (3) actual localized and individuated substances with extensive properties and differenciated qualities. Simply put, the actualization of the virtual, that is, the production of the actual things of the world, proceeds by way of intensive processes. Various authors have shown how this scheme provides an ontology for dynamic systems theory.

I will then suggest three ways in which this schema can provide a conceptual framework for an enactive approach to biology, keeping in mind at all times the tradeoff between the effort necessary for learning a new vocabulary and new ontological scheme versus the benefits of adopting that new framework. My model here is the work of Hubert Dreyfus in making the vocabulary and ontological scheme of Martin Heidegger relevant for cognitive science.

First, I will discuss Deleuze’s notion of a “larval subject” accompanying “spatio-temporal dynamisms” (= intensive morphogenetic processes) in relation to the sense-making of autonomous systems, as laid out in Thompson’s synthesis of Varela’s notion of autopoiesis and Di Paolo’s notion of adaptivity.

Second, I will discuss Deleuze’s notion of “counter-effectuation” (roughly speaking the feedback from actual and intensive to the virtual) in relation to Mary Jane West-Eberhard’s notion of environmentally induced phenotypic variation (=  “developmental plasticity”) as the leader in evolution.

Finally, I will discuss two notions associated with Developmental Systems Theory in Deleuzean terms: a) the heterogenous nature of the developmental system (intra- and extra-somatic elements) in terms of Deleuze’s notion of “assemblage” and b) the notion of niche-construction in terms of Deleuze’s notion of “territorialization.”

Presentation Slides [pdf]

 

John Protevi: Deleuze’s contribution to an enactive approach to biology from eSMCs on Vimeo.

Development and evolution in a world without labels

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Susan Oyama
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
The Graduate School and University Center, CUNY,
USA

Accounts of development and evolution typically involve complementary notions of prespecification–organismic and environmental ‘labeling,’ if you will. In the case of development these can take the form of genetic programs or instructions and the like, while descriptions of evolution often invoke preexisting environmental demands or problems that organisms must meet.
The traditions of thought informing The Embodied Mind and Developmental Systems Theory (DST) both challenge such ways of conceiving life processes. Yet these traditions sprang from different grounds, and they bring distinctive sensibilities to their overlapping projects. I describe the systemic contingencies of self-organizing systems in DST, pointing out the importance of alternative pathways, both in biological processes and the theorizing they inspire.

 

Susan Oyama: Development and evolution in a world without labels from eSMCs on Vimeo.

The origins and self-maintenance of representing

Monday, September 5th, 2011

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

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.