Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Philosophy of Mind, Technology, tagged Andy Clark, Cognitive Science, David Chalmers, Discover Magazine, embodied mind, embodiment, extended memory, extended mind, externalism, google, internalism, Neuroscience, Philosophy of Mind, Technology on January 24, 2009|
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There’s a great new article on the extended mind, titled, “How Google Is Making Us Smarter“, in Discover Magazine’s latest issue. You should definitely check it out.
The theory of the extended mind suggests that the mind is not contained exclusively ‘inside’ the skull, but rather that it extends into the external environment. While our mind can use the structure of our brain to store information, it also uses other structures in the outside world for cognitive functioning too. The classic example for this is the use of notepads or chalkboards as extended memory. To aid in the memorization of things, like classroom lessons or a friend’s phone number, we often utilize records stored on chalkboards or cell phones to remind us later of the information. According to this theory, the mind is intricately connected to its external environment through this kind of cognitive scaffolding. In fact, this externalism is necessary for real time, efficient action in the world. It bypasses the problem of an information bottleneck that would hamper real time cognitive processing if we had to store all of the relevant information about the world internally.
The article in Discover debunks the old myth that increasingly useful technology is making us dumb and lazy because it lessens the burden on our own brains. Rather, technology like the internet is making us smarter, because it is increasing our capacity to network with the extended world.
The theory of the extended mind was first proposed by philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers in a short essay aptly titled “The Extended Mind” in 1998.
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Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Perception, Robotics, Technology, tagged Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, cognitivism, embodied cognition, embodied robotics, embodiment, Jetsons, Lost in Space, MIT, MIT robotics laboratory, New York Times, Nicholas Roy, robot maids, robot pets, Robotics, science, Stanley Kubrick, terminator on December 6, 2008|
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In this recent NY Times article, we get asked: “What happened to all of those early promises of having cogent robots, fully or partially integrated into our society, helping us out with all of our daily tasks?” Where are our robot maids, like in The Jetsons? Robots to dramatically and obnoxiously warn us of impending dangers, such as in Lost in Space? Robot pets? It’s already just about 8 years after Stanley Kubrick’s ominous prediction of 2001, so where are they?
‘Artificial intelligence’ has become a radical misnomer with the focus more on the ‘artificial’ rather than the ‘intelligence’. Cutting edge roboticists at the MIT robotics laboratory have an astute answer. Quite simply, early models of artificial intelligence took it for granted what seem to us to be simple bodily tasks, motor functions and perceptive abilities. It turns out that those are actually the most difficult kinds of abilities to program.
If cognition is fundamentally embodied, then it’s no surprise that intelligence hasn’t emerged in robots. Before you can have real, versatile intelligence, you have to master simple motor tasks in non-structured environments. It turns out our ability to do things like reach and grab for objects or walk through a changing environment has more to do with higher cognition than anything else. And so far, we can’t even put together a robot with the same motor capabilities of a newborn; or a cockroach, for that matter.
On the bright side, there’s also no foreseeable danger of assassin terminators taking over the world, either.
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Posted in Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Robotics, Technology, tagged Cognitive Science, cognitive systems, embodied cognition, embodied robotics, embodiment, enactive cognition, enactivism, humanoids, iCub, interactive robotics, open source, open systems research, Robot Cub, RobotCub, Robotics on December 3, 2008|
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The RobotCub Project
is fascinating, ongoing research which is studying cognition through the construction of a robot, called the iCub, which is a humanoid with roughly the appearance and size of a 3.5 year old child– which is currently about the same age as the project. This is the kind of research that is revolutionizing our knowledge of embodied, enactive cognition.
Even better, the project is entirely open source and public. At their website at robotcub.org, you can find source files, publications, pictures, videos and updates on the project. You can view the iCub software files. They’re always open to new international collaborators and partners.
The project also runs a yearly “summer school” where students have the chance to experiment with the iCub, and which helps to encourage embodied artificial cognitive systems research.
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Posted in Art, Cognitive Science, Dance and Movement Art, Neuroscience, Perception, Phenomenology, philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Video, tagged Alva Noë, analytic philosophy, Art, brain, brain science, Cognitive Science, cognitivism, consciousness, dance, embodiment, enactivism, experience, intentionality, minds, Neuroscience, Perception, Phenomenology, philosophy, philosophy of art, Philosophy of Mind, reference, Video on November 28, 2008|
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Over at Edge, a video interview and written transcript have been posted of Alva Noë discussing many of the philosophical problems concerning consciousness, and how a paradigm shift toward an embodied understanding of mind might help to resolve those problems.
Within it, Noë notes that most modern cognitivist research about consciousness and experience within neuroscience and classical cognitive science are actually just recycling many of the old problems of consciousness within a new framework. In other words, although the framework has changed, the same ways of understanding– the same paradigms– are still in place.
He uses the metaphor of a dancer to refocus instead on the importance of movement, action and the environment in the making of consciousness. He also ponders the mysteries of pictorial paradoxes about reference and meaning, and again discusses how an embodied approach offers answers.
Alva Noë is a professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley.
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