Embodiment

Chrisley, Ronald and Ziemke, Tom (2003) Embodiment.

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Abstract

An understanding of how cognition is realized or instantiated in a physical system, especially a body, may require or be required by an account of a system's embedding in its environment, its dynamical properties, its (especially phylogenetic) history and (especially biological) function, and its nonrepresentational or noncomputational properties. In recent years a sizable proportion of researchers in cognitive science and artificial intelligence have come to criticize many traditional approaches to modelling, building and understanding cognitive systems as not placing sufficient emphasis on the body or physical realization of such systems. Non-embodied approaches to cognitive science typically involve some or all of the following features, to a greater or lesser extent: +The belief that cognition is computation and thus can be can be understood in an implementation-independent way, allowing cognitive science to proceed independently of biology and neuroscience; +A search for general-purpose cognitive abilities, not relativized to any particular (biological, sensorimotor, physical) context or need; +A method of analysis, modelling and design that for the most part ignores temporal aspects of cognition, in that it: o Focuses on behaviours (e.g. chess playing) that are evaluated in terms of "getting the right answer" rather than exhibiting a particular dynamic profile; and o Sees cognition as a module that mediates between the a) deliverances of a causally prior perceptual module and b) the inputs to an autonomous action system. In contrast, embodied approaches to cognition typically involve some or all of the following features, again to varying degrees: +Acknowledgment of the role that the body and its sensorimotor processes can and do play in cognition. Some aspects of the system that would, on the traditional view, be considered mere matters of implementation, are instead taken to be crucial components; +Cognition is understood in the context of its (especially evolutionary) biological function: to support the activities of the body; +Cognition is viewed as a real-time, situated activity, typically inseparable from and often fully interleaved with perception and action. Embodied cognitive science or artificial intelligence, then, refers to a range of loosely affiliated philosophies, explanatory frameworks and design methodologies that strive to redress a perceived neglect of the body in cognitive science. Although since the mid-80s there has been a sharp increase in interest in embodied cognition (and use of the term embodiment), there are many aspects of cognitive science and artificial intelligence research conducted in the 1960s and 1970s that are recognisably embodied approaches.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Engineering and Informatics > Informatics
Depositing User: Ron Chrisley
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:30
Last Modified: 31 May 2013 12:27
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/26291
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