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.
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.