Referential communication as a collective property of a brain-body-environment-body-brain system: A minimal cognitive model

Jorge I. Campos and Tom Froese

Referential communication is a complex form of social interaction whereby agents manage to coordinate behavior with respect to features that are not immediately present during the interaction. A famous example from nature is the bee waggle dance. The authors used an minimal cognitive approach to create a model of referential communication that is sufficiently minimal to permit a full dynamical analysis, and yet still complex enough so that the results provide a useful perspective onto the processes that could be involved in natural referential communication. The task is for two embodied agents to interact in a “hive” area such that one of the agents (the receiver) is able to move to a specific “target”, the location of which is only available to the other agent (the sender). The task implicitly requires adopting the right role (sender vs. receiver), disambiguating between translational and communicative motion, and switching from communicative to target seeking behavior. Similar to the waggle dance, the best solution involved a correlation between duration of contact and distance to be traveled. Dynamical analysis revealed that this behavior cannot be attributed to the sender in isolation.




The 2018 Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE 2018) – CALL FOR PAPERS

A Hybrid of the European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) and the International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALife)

July 23-27, 2018
Tokyo, Japan

BEYOND A.I.: A New Epistemology for Artificial Life and Complex Systems

The ALIFE 2018 conference will be a stimulating home for a rich and diverse research community in Artificial Life and related fields from around the world, with a special emphasis on encouraging communication and building bridges between the different research threads that make Artificial Life such an exciting field. Following in the tradition of recent artificial life conferences, the meeting will also have an overall theme that reflects the global nature of the first joint conference: Beyond AI. Submissions are
welcome on all topics.

We are inviting especially contributions to solve new challenges in ALife. Since the first ALife conference in 1987, the computational landscape has been completely reshaped in terms of scale, means, capacity, and spheres of application in our society. The use of massive real-world data has now the potential to offer an important new avenue for ALife, to help us understand the nature of living systems by understanding bridges between simple idealized models and complex data-rich phenomena? An epistemology for a modern artificial life that can operate at scale and in partnership with data, but without sacrificing the complexity of the systems that we observe, has yet to be achieved. By widening the focus of artificial life, the field can avoid conventional approaches and be a source of radically new concepts, methods, models, and technologies.

We are honoured to welcome keynote speakers who include:

Rodney Brooks (iRobot, MIT, USA)
Inman Harvey (University of Sussex, UK)
Hiroshi Ishiguro (Osaka University, Japan)
David OReilly (Artist, USA)
Margaret Boden (University of Sussex, UK)
Kenneth O. Stanley (University of Central Florida, USA)
Hyejin Youn (Northwestern University, USA)


Is there room for normativity in a dynamical world?

This can serve as our seminar of this week!

Dr. Tom Froese

Tomorrow at 2pm I will be giving an online talk for the ENactive Seminars Online (ENSO) Series. Here are the title and abstract:

Is there room for normativity in a dynamical world?

Enactivism rejects the standard working hypothesis of cognitive science, according to which all cognition involves the unconscious manipulation of mental representations, and replaces it with a dynamical systems account. And yet enactivism resists other, purely dynamical approaches that see no role for any kind of subjectivity, because it appeals to the role of our lived phenomenology and claims that living beings behave with respect to norms directed at maintaining their viability.

So far, this middle way seems to be philosophically unsatisfactory: at best it allows us to claim that acting in accordance with experience or norms just is a certain kind of dynamic pattern. But this turns subjectivity into a mysterious difference that makes no difference as such…

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IEEE CEC 2018 — Special Session on Evolutionary Robotics

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 8-13 July, 2018



Evolutionary Robotics (ER) aims to apply evolutionary computation techniques to automatically design the control and/or hardware of both real and simulated autonomous robots. Its origins date back to the beginning of the nineties and since then it has been attracting the interest of many research centres all over the world.

ER techniques are mostly inspired by existing biological architectures and Darwin’s principle of selective reproduction of the fittest. Evolution has revealed that living creatures are able to accomplish complex tasks required for their survival, thus embodying cooperative, competitive and adaptive behaviours.

Having an intrinsic interdisciplinary character, ER has been employed towards the development of many fields of research, among which we can highlight neuroscience, cognitive science, evolutionary biology and robotics. Hence, the objective of this special session is to assemble a set of high-quality original contributions that reflect and advance the state-of-the-art in the area of Evolutionary Robotics, with an emphasis on the cross-fertilization between ER and the aforementioned research areas, ranging from theoretical analysis to real-life applications.


Mario Zarco graduates with honors!

Today Mario Zarco graduated with honors from UNAM’s Master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering for his work on self-optimization in neural networks.

The title and extended abstract of his thesis are as follows:

􀀈􀀓􀀔􀀕􀀇􀀌􀀐􀀁􀀇􀀈􀀁􀀄􀀕􀀔􀀐􀀂􀀐􀀑􀀔􀀌􀀎􀀌􀀖􀀄􀀆􀀌􀀘􀀏􀀁􀀈􀀏􀀁􀀒􀀈􀀇􀀈􀀓􀀁Estudio de Auto-Optimización en Redes Neuronales de Hopfield
Mario Alberto Zarco López

Las redes neuronales de Hopfield de tiempo discreto, cuya dinámica presentan múltiples atractores de punto fijo, han sido ampliamente usadas en dos casos: (1) memoria asociativa, basada en aprender un conjunto de patrones de entrenamiento los cuales son representados por atractores, y (2) optimización, basado en representar un problema de satisfaccion de restricciones con la topología de la red de tal forma que los atractores sean soluciones de ese problema. En el ultimo caso, la función de energía de la red debe tener la misma forma que la función a ser optimizada, de modo que los m´ınimos de la primera también sean mínimos de la segunda. Aunque se ha demostrado que los atractores de baja energía tienen un amplio domino de atracción, la red usualmente queda atrapada en mínimos locales. Recientemente se demostró que las redes de Hopfield de tiempo-discreto pueden converger en atractores globalmente óptimos ampliando las mejores cuencas de atracción. La red combina el aprendizaje de sus propios atractores usando aprendizaje Hebbiano y la aleatorizacion de los estados neuronales una vez que la red ha reforzada su configuración actual.

CALL FOR PAPERS – Adaptive Behavior

Special issue: “Spotlight on 4E Cognition research in Mexico”

The last couple of decades in cognitive science have seen an increasing interest in the philosophical and scientific study of embodied, embedded, extended, and enactive cognition – so-called “4E cognition.” By now theories of 4E cognition have matured and a lot of evidence has been collected, which consequently has reshaped our understanding of the relationship between an agent’s brain, body, and its material and sociocultural world. Despite their differences in emphasis, the various strands of 4E cognition research are united in proposing that an agent’s cognitive activity is bodily mediated, especially by the context-sensitive deployment of sensorimotor capacities.

While these interdisciplinary approaches have largely been developed in Europe, the United States, and Australia, other regions have also been influenced by this growing movement and have started to advance their own original contributions. The aim of this special issue is, therefore, to put a spotlight on 4E cognition research from one such region, Mexico. It intends to do so in two respects: first, to explore the current state and breadth of the field in Mexico; second, to critically examine questions and problems elicited by this Mexican research, focusing on open challenges, with the aim to articulate more precise arguments for and against key claims advanced by 4E cognition research.



The new season of the ENactive Seminars Online (ENSO) will start on Thursday Sept. 7, at 10 a.m. UTC, with a presentation from Miriam Kyselo on Diversity and the Minimal Self. The abstract and other details for the event, including links for viewing the talk and a forum for discussion can all be found here.
If you are interested in participating in the live session, please send an email to Matthew Egbert <> before or during the event. He will respond by sending a link that you can follow to participate. For this link to work, you will need to have the browser plugin for google hangouts.