University of Birmingham > Talks@bham > Computer Science Departmental Series > How to think about architectures for minds of autonomous animals and machines

How to think about architectures for minds of autonomous animals and machines

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Christine Zarges.

Many researchers building working models of humans or other animals, or designing intelligent machines, construct an ad-hoc information-processing architecture that simply combines the components developed for the system. There is often a cobbled-together set of requirements and designs without any attempt to survey either the space of potentially relevant sets of requirements for such architectures (“niche space”) or the space of possible designs meeting those requirements (“design space”).

This can lead to ad hoc engineering solutions that are hard to evaluate and hard to extend, lacking the engineering benefits of reusable or extendable architectures or architecture schemas produced by evolution. It can also fail to address deep scientific questions about what sorts of architectures evolution (enhanced by development, learning, and cultural processes) can produce, and has produced, and why, and what sorts of mechanisms/technology may be required to match or extend the biological systems, including those that grow themselves, both physically and functionally, using deep interactions between genome and environment in epigenesis.

Without a general theory about these mechanisms and trajectories, research on developmental abnormalities and deficiencies is likely to lack depth, and even educational policies can be seriously misguided. Moreover, without a deep and broad theory of the “space of possible minds”, building on research across disciplines, philosophers are doomed to restrict their investigations to a relatively shallow, narrowly circumscribed, currently fashionable set of ideas.

The Birmingham Cognition and Affect (CogAff) project begun in 1991, extending multi-disciplinary work begun in the 1970s at Sussex University and elsewhere, aimed to produce theoretical analyses, working models, new research questions, and software tools to support design and development of working models to test ideas.

The talk will present an overview of some of the ideas developed and suggest some ways in which they are still relevant to current research projects aiming to understand, replicate or enhance products of biological evolution, build useful intelligent systems, or use a broad knowledge base to address old philosophical problems about life and mind.

Freely available relevant background material: Do intelligent machines, natural or artificial, really need emotions? Origins and Overview of The Cognition and Affect (CogAff) Project The (Turing-Inspired) Meta-Morphogenesis (MM) Project

This talk is part of the Computer Science Departmental Series series.

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