The Life & Mind Seminar Network

Self-maintaining Patterns of Behaviour

Posted in Seminars by matthewegbert on August 18, 2014
Hello everyone!
I’ve recently published a couple of papers that may be of interest to people in this community.
Partially inspired by conversations at the (fantastic) eSMCs summer school, in San Sebastian, 2011, both papers present analysis of a newly developed computational model which is used to investigate how the organisational property of precarious self-maintenance that is typically associated with life could also underlie habits, seen as precarious self-maintaining patterns of sensorimotor behavior.
The principle underlying the model is simple; a robot is controlled by a system that reinforces visited sensorimotor trajectories, so that the robot is more likely to later re-enact those sensorimotor trajectories. Like a self-maintaining cell, certain patterns of sensorimotor behavior, habits, can also be precarious; perpetually decaying, yet sometimes counteracting that decay through processes of self-maintenance.
The first paper was published about a week ago in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. It presents the latest version of this “habit-based controller” in detail, including (i) how it can be trained to perform certain behaviors (ii) an explanation of what habits are in the model and (iii) a first exploration of what kind of self-maintaining behaviors emerge when the controller is randomly initialized.  This paper was a collaboration with Xabier Barandiaran who, among other contributions, provided a substantial philosophical and historical contextualization of the work.
The second paper, presented earlier this month at ALIFE in NYC, uses the same model, but coupled to a robot with a biological essential variable, “blood sugar,” that needs particular forms of behavior to be regulated within viability limits if it is to be considered healthy. Because the habit-based controller can only reinforce/stabilize patterns of behavior that are repeated, when the state of the essential variable is included as an interoceptive sensed variable, behaviors spontaneously emerge that regulate/stabilize the essential variable. This work relates to Ezequiel’s and Hiro’s work on homeostatic robotics, and provides a demonstration of how the essential variables of a habit can be the same as (or at least tightly intertwined with) the essential variables of the biological organism performing the behavior. To pique your interest, here are also a couple of videos of trials from this paper.
I am always happy to discuss this work — please give me a shout if you have questions or comments. I hope you get a chance to take a look, and I look forward to our next get-together!
All the best,

Action, counterfactual action and neurophenomenology

Posted in Seminars by mjsbeaton on August 8, 2014

Paper from last year on action, counterfactual action and neurophenomenology – also with links to direct perception.

May be of interest!

Review of Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds without Content

Posted in Seminars by Tom Froese on April 21, 2014

Tom Froese:

Here is my review of Hutto and Myin’s radical enactivism…

Originally posted on Dr. Tom Froese:

I was invited to write a review of Hutto and Myin’s Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds without Content for The Journal of Mind and Behavior. You can read my largely positive verdict here:

Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds without Content. Daniel D. Hutto and Erik Myin. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2013, 206 pages, $35.00 hardcover

Tom Froese

Increasing numbers of philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists are jumping on the embodied cognition bandwagon. Accordingly, mind is no longer viewed as locked away in some Platonic realm of pure logic, as the computational theory of mind has traditionally proposed. Instead, mind has become identified with purposeful activity in the world, an activity that is realized by the body, extended by usage of tools, and scaffolded by a sociocultural environment.

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AISB50 symposium – The Future of Art and Computing: A Post-Turing Centennial Perspective

Posted in Seminars by Tom Froese on February 26, 2014

Tom Froese:

The AISB50 symposium will also feature some cybernetic art …

Originally posted on Luciana Haill:

I am pleased to announce my paper Image“Revelations by Flicker: Dream Machines and Electroencephalographic signals in art” has been accepted for the AISB-50 Symposium on “The Future of Art and Computing: A Post-Turing Centennial Perspective”, to be held this April. The Symposium will be on Thursday 3rd April, I am scheduled for 2pm, with AISB-50 running 1-4 April, 2014.

How did an ordinary tool in the Neurophysiology department became a means for spiritual enlightenment? This article follows the emergence of the EEG in artworks, internalised like its predecessor from research laboratories, Flicker. The crossover occurred between Dr Grey Walter’s neurological research with strobes and electroencephalographs, and the arts culture of ‘The Beats’ following his publication of “The Living Brain.” Cyberneticians, psychologists and artists were soon inspiring each other with pioneering chemistry, new artistic styles and new ways of seeing.

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Tom Froese video talk at AISB 2014 symposium on Re-conceptualizing Mental “Illness”

Posted in Seminars by jackoflantern on February 26, 2014


Just a thumbs up that Tom has agreed to do a recorded video presentation for this year’s AISB symposium on Re-Conceptualizing Mental “Illness”:  Enactive Philosophy and Cognitive Science, An Ongoing Dialogue, 3-4 April at Goldsmiths in London.  For the second year now, I’m organizing the symposium with Blay Whitby.  Tom’s provisional title is “An Enactive Critique of the Psychopathologies of Cognitive Science”.  I’ll be posting a link to the talk here after the AISB convention, as well as some thoughts on the discussions there!

Joel Parthemore


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