The Life & Mind Seminar Network

Reports for the eSMCs project

Posted in Seminars by Ezequiel on April 20, 2015

The project eSMCs: Extending SensoriMotor Contingencies to Cognition (1/2011-12/2014, EU FP7-ICT-2009-6 no: 270212) has recently come to an end. You can find more information on the project website. Here I include the reports delivered by our research team. They summarize what was work-in-progress at the time of writing, most of which was later published. But also some bits that have not yet been published.

Barandiaran, X., Buhrmann, T. and Di Paolo, E. (2012). Deliverable D1.1: Interim report on eSMCs and embodiment.

Barandiaran, X., Beaton, M., Buhrmann, T. and Di Paolo, E. (2013). Deliverable D1.2: eSMCs and Embodied Cognition.

Beaton, M., Barandiaran, X., Buhrmann, T. and Di Paolo, E. (2014). Deliverable D1.5: Cognitive organisation for sustaining eSMCs.

Buhrmann, T., Di Paolo, E., Barandiaran, X., De Jaegher, H. (2015). Deliverable D1.6: Agency and eSMCs.

Beaton, M. and Di Paolo, E. (2015). Deliverable D1.7 Virtual Actions and eSMCs.

CFP: Interactivist Summer Institute 2015

Posted in Seminars by Tom Froese on March 16, 2015

Interactivist Summer Institute 2015

June 20 – 23, 2015

Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey

The Interactivist Summer Institute is dedicated to exploring the frontiers of understanding of life, mind, and cognition. There is a growing recognition – across many disciplines – that phenomena of life and mind, including cognition and representation, are emergents of far-from-equilibrium, interactive, autonomous systems. In such a view, mind and biology, mind and agent, are re-united. The classical treatment of cognition and representation within a formalist framework of encodingist assumptions is increasingly recognized as a fruitless maze of blind alleys. From neurobiology to robotics, from cognitive science to philosophy of mind and language, dynamic and interactive alternatives are being explored. Dynamic systems approaches, enactivist and autonomous agent research join in the effort.

The interactivist model offers a theoretical approach to matters of life and mind, ranging from evolutionary- and neuro-biology (including the emergence of biological function) through representation, perception, motivation, memory, learning and development, emotions, consciousness, language, action theory, rationality, sociality, personality and psychopathology, and ethics. This work has developed interfaces with studies of central nervous system functioning, the ontology of process, autonomous agents, philosophy of science, and all areas of psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science that address the person.

The conference will involve both tutorials addressing central parts and aspects of the interactive model, and papers addressing current work of relevance to this general approach. This will be our eighth Summer Institute:

  • Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA 2001
  • IT University, Copenhagen, Denmark 2003
  • Clemson University, South Carolina 2005
  • The American University in Paris, Paris 200
  • Simon Fraser University, Vancouver 2009
  • University of the Aegean, Syros, Greece 2011
  • University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Fl 2013

The Summer Institute is a biennial meeting where those sharing the core interests and ideas of interactivism will meet and discuss their work, try to reconstruct its historical roots, put forward current research in different fields that fits the interactivist framework, and define research topics for prospective graduate students. People working in philosophy of mind, linguistics, social sciences, artificial intelligence, cognitive robotics, theoretical biology, and other fields related to the sciences of mind are invited to send their paper submission or statement of interest for participation to the organizers.

Paper: A Mathematical Model of the Collective Social Organization of Ancient Teotihuacan

Posted in Seminars by Tom Froese on October 13, 2014

Tom Froese:

Another step in my ongoing efforts to push the enactive approach into the area of social and cultural anthropology…

Originally posted on Dr. Tom Froese:

Ever since I first visited the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan several years ago, I wanted to learn as much as possible about its unique culture. Here is one of the products of that quest: a paper combining complex systems modeling with Mesoamerican archaeology and the anthropology of ritual.

Can government be self-organized? A mathematical model of the collective social organization of ancient Teotihuacan, Central Mexico

Tom Froese, Carlos Gershenson and Linda R. Manzanilla

Teotihuacan was the first urban civilization of Mesoamerica and one of the largest of the ancient world. Following a tradition in archaeology to equate social complexity with centralized hierarchy, it is widely believed that the city’s origin and growth was controlled by a lineage of powerful individuals. However, much data is indicative of a government of co-rulers, and artistic traditions expressed an egalitarian ideology. Yet this alternative keeps being marginalized because the problems of collective action make…

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Interactive development of social awareness

Posted in Seminars by Tom Froese on September 26, 2014

Tom Froese:

A paper for all the embodied social interaction fans…

Originally posted on Dr. Tom Froese:

A study done with Hiro Iizuka and Takashi Ikegami about the recapitulation of the development of social awareness in pars of adults engaged in minimal embodied interaction.

Using minimal human-computer interfaces for studying the interactive development of social awareness

Tom Froese, Hiroyuki Iizuka, and Takashi Ikegami

According to the enactive approach to cognitive science, perception is essentially a skillful engagement with the world. Learning how to engage via a human-computer interface (HCI) can therefore be taken as an instance of developing a new mode of experiencing. Similarly, social perception is theorized to be primarily constituted by skillful engagement between people, which implies that it is possible to investigate the origins and development of social awareness using multi-user HCIs. We analyzed the trial-by-trial objective and subjective changes in sociality that took place during a perceptual crossing experiment in which embodied interaction between pairs of adults was mediated over a minimalist haptic…

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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,

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