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