January 15, 2013 at 10:05 pm (Publications)
Tags: autopoiesis, biology of cognition, cognitive science, cybernetics, enaction
Back in 2010 John Stewart and I published a paper on Life after Ashby, in which we argued that the concept of autopoiesis is experiencing some growing pains within the paradigm of enaction, because the concept was originally conceived and expressed within an abstract systems framework that was already familiar from Ashby’s work.
This was followed in 2011 by a commentary by Maturana, in which he distances himself from what we had called the Ashbyan interpretation of autopoiesis and offers some additional clarifications about his work.
John and I wrote a response to Maturana’s commentary, Enactive Cognitive Science and Biology of Cognition, in which we clarify our position and offer some further reflections on the similarities and differences between Maturana’s biology of cognition and the enactive approach to cognitive science. We agree that Maturana’s work is an improvement over Ashby’s approach to biological function, but we also suggest that the enactive approach is in important respects an improvement over the biology of cognition.
Our response will be published in the next issue of Cybernetics & Human Knowing, which will also include another commentary on our original 2010 article by Bich and Arnellos. Like us and Maturana, these authors also reject the Ashbyan interpretation of autopoiesis, and they draw on the work of a number of other theoretical biologists in order to suggest that it is nevertheless possible to devise a notion of autopoiesis that can better deal with our initial criticisms.
January 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm (General, Presentations, Publications)
Tags: enactive interfaces, enactive perception, human-computer interface, sensory substitution
Our paper on the Enactive Torch, entitled The Enactive Torch: A New Tool for the Science of Perception, which was published in IEEE Transactions on Haptics, is discussed in that journal’s latest podcast. The coverage starts at 11:00.
July 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm (Publications)
Our paper for the Artificial Life 13 conference has been published by the MIT Press.
The Behavior-Based Hypercycle: From Parasitic Reaction to Symbiotic Behavior
Tom Froese, Takashi Ikegami and Nathaniel Virgo
Most researchers in the science of the origin of life assume that the process of living is nothing but computation in the chemical domain, i.e. information processing of a genetic code. This has had the effect of restricting research to the problem of stability, as epitomized by the concept of the hypercycle and its potential vulnerability against parasites. Stability is typically assumed to be ensured by a rigid compartment, but spatial self-structuring is a viable alternative. We further develop this alternative by proposing that some instability can actually be beneficial under certain conditions. We show that instability can lead to adaptive behavior even in the case of simple prebiotic reaction-diffusion systems. We demonstrate for the first time that a parasitic sidereaction on the metabolic level can lead to self-motility on the behavioral level of the chemical system as a whole. Moreover, self-motility entails advantages on an evolutionary level, thus constituting a symbiotic, behavior-based hypercycle. We relate this novel finding to several issues in the science of the origin of life, and conclude that more attention should be given to the possibility of a movement-first scenario.
July 11, 2012 at 1:13 am (Publications)
What is it like to use the Enactive Torch? The first systematic study of the experience of using this devise is going to come out soon in IEEE Transactions on Haptics. The title and abstract are as follows.
The Enactive Torch: A New Tool for the Science of Perception
Tom Froese, Marek McGann, William Bigge, Adam Spiers, and Anil K. Seth
The cognitive sciences are increasingly coming to terms with the embodied, embedded, extended, and experiential aspects of the mind. Exemplifying this shift, the enactive approach points to an essential role of goal-directed bodily activity in the generation of meaningful perceptual experience, i.e., sense-making. Here, building on recent insights into the transformative effects of practical tool-use, we make use of the enactive approach in order to provide a definition of an enactive interface in terms of augmented sense-making. We introduce such a custom-built interface, the Enactive Torch, and present a study of its experiential effects. The results demonstrate that the user experience is not adequately captured by any standardly assumed perceptual modality; rather, it is a new feeling that is mediated by the design of the device and shaped by the overall situation of the task. Taken together these findings show that there is much to be gained by synergies between engineering and the cognitive sciences in the creation of new experience-centered technology. We suggest that the guiding principle should be the design of interfaces that serve as a transparent medium for augmenting our natural skills of interaction with the world, instead of requiring conscious attention to the interface as an opaque object in the world.
July 5, 2012 at 4:08 am (Publications)
My attempt to promote the methods and insights of evolutionary robotics in the field of human neuroscience has had its first success. A model of social interaction has been published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. This paper completes the main project of my JSPS fellowship.
Imitation by social interaction? Analysis of a minimal agent-based model of the correspondence problem
Tom Froese, Charles Lenay, and Takashi Ikegami
Abstract: One of the major challenges faced by explanations of imitation is the “correspondence problem”: how is an agent able to match its bodily expression to the observed bodily expression of another agent, especially when there is no possibility of external self-observation? Current theories only consider the possibility of an innate or acquired matching mechanism belonging to an isolated individual. In this paper we evaluate an alternative that situates the explanation of imitation in the inter-individual dynamics of the interaction process itself. We implemented a minimal model of two interacting agents based on a recent psychological study of imitative behavior during minimalist perceptual crossing. The agents cannot sense the configuration of their own body, and do not have access to other’s body configuration, either. And yet surprisingly they are still capable of converging on matching bodily configurations. Analysis revealed that the agents solved this version of the correspondence problem in terms of collective properties of the interaction process. Contrary to the assumption that such properties merely serve as external input or scaffolding for individual mechanisms, it was found that the behavioral dynamics were distributed across the model as a whole.
June 28, 2012 at 7:05 am (Publications)
I’m happy to announce that my first publication in the field of archaeology and anthropology is now officially in press.
The paper is based on a talk I gave at Breaking Convention in Canterbury last year. It discusses possible links between the ritualization of non-ordinary states of consciousness and the cultural origins of the modern human mind.
Please click on the title to download the paper:
Altered States and the Prehistoric Ritualization of the Modern Human Mind.
June 13, 2012 at 3:25 am (Publications)
In response to some GOFAI nostalgia published in the last issue of the AISB Quarterly, I wrote a short position paper outlining an alternative view of the situation. My response will be published in issue #134.
The contribution is called: Cognitive science is not computer science
June 5, 2012 at 1:41 am (Publications)
The starting point for this paper was the realization that many of my colleagues who had been working in robotics and artificial life, had switched to doing experiments with human participants. Accordingly, I thought that it might be of general interest to explore some of the reasons for this shift.
Using Human–Computer Interfaces to Investigate ‘Mind-As-It-Could-Be’ from the First-Person Perspective
Tom Froese • Keisuke Suzuki • Yuta Ogai •Takashi Ikegami
There is a growing community of researchers who are interested in establishing a science of the experiential or ‘lived’ aspects of the human mind. This shift from cognitive science to consciousness science presents a profound challenge to synthetic approaches. To be sure, symbolic artificial intelligence constituted the original foundation of cognitive science; subsequent progress in robotics has helped to pioneer a new understanding of the mind as essentially embodied, situated, and dynamical, while artificial life has informed the concept of biological self-organization. However, with regard to the development of a science of the experienced mind, the relevance of these synthetic approaches still remains uncertain. We propose to address the challenge of first-person experience by designing new human–computer interfaces, which aim to artificially mediate a participant’s sensorimotor loop such that novel kinds of experience can emerge for the user. The advantage of this synthetic approach is that computer interface technology enables us to systematically vary the ways in which participants experience the world and thereby allows us to systematically investigate ‘mind-as-it-could-be’ from the first-person perspective. We illustrate the basic principles of this method by drawing on examples from our research in sensory substitution, virtual reality, and interactive installation.