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  • Artificial Life Workshop

    To: Biology, Engineering and Philosophy Lists
    Reposted Message From: Arantza Etxeberria
    Subject: Artificial Life Workshop Announcement
    Date: Mon, 18 Oct 93 10:48:42 BST

    "Artificial Life: a Bridge towards a New Artificial Intelligence"

    Palacio de Miramar (San Sebastian, Spain)
    December 10th and 11th, 1993

    Workshop organised by the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science,
    Faculty of Computer Science & Institute of Logic, Cognition, Language
    and Information (ILCLI) of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU)

    Directors: Alvaro Moreno (University of the Basque Country)
    Francisco Varela (CREA, Paris)

    This Workshop will be dedicated to a discussion of the impact of works
    on Artifical Life in Artificial Intelligence. Artificial Intelligence
    (AI) has traditionally attempted to study cognition as an abstract
    phenomenon using formal tools, that is, as a disembodied process that
    can be grasped through formal operations, independent of the nature of
    the system that displays it. Cognition appears as an abstract
    representation of reality. After several decades of research in this
    direction the field has encountered several problems that have taken it
    to what many consider a "dead end": difficulties in understanding
    autonomous and situated agencies, in relating behaviour in a real
    environment, in studying the nature and evolution of perception, in
    finding a pragmatic approach to explain the operation of most cognitive
    capacities such as natural language, context dependent action, etc.

    Artificial Life (AL) has recently emerged as a confluence of very
    different fields trying to study different kinds of phenomena of living
    systems using computers as a modelling tool, and, at last, trying to
    artificially (re)produce a living or a population of living systems in
    real or computational media. Examples of such phenomena are prebiotic
    systems and their evolution, growth and development, self-reproduction,
    adaptation to an environment, evolution of ecosystems and natural
    selection, formation of sensory-motor loops, autonomous robots. Thus,
    AL is having an impact on classic life sciences but also on the
    conceptual foundations of AI and new methodological ideas to Cognitive

    The aim of this Workshop is to focus on the last two points and to
    evaluate the influence of the methodology and concepts appearing in AL
    for the development of a new ideas about cognition that could
    eventually give birth to a new Artificial Intelligence. Some of the
    sessions consist on presentations and replies on a specific subject by
    invited speakers while others will be debates open to all participants
    in the workshop.


    * A review of the problems of FUNCTIONALISM in Cognitive Science
    and Artificial Life.
    * Modelling Neural Networks through Genetic Algorithms.
    * Autonomy and Robotics.
    * Consequences of the crisis of the representational models of cognition.
    * Minimal Living System and Minimal Cognitive System
    * Artificial Life systems as problem solvers
    * Emergence and evolution in artificial systems

    SPEAKERS S. Harnad
    P. Husbands
    G. Kampis
    B. Mac Mullin
    D. Parisi
    T. Smithers
    E. Thompson
    F. Varela

    Further Information: Alvaro Moreno
    Apartado 1249
    20080 DONOSTIA

    E. Mail:
    Fax: 34 43 311056
    Phone: 34 43 310600 (extension 221)
    34 43 218000 (extension 209)

    Harnad Abstract (others not yet available to poster)


    Stevan Harnad
    Laboratoire Cognition et Mouvement
    URA CNRS 1166 I.B.H.O.P.
    Universite d'Aix Marseille II
    13388 Marseille cedex 13, France

    ABSTRACT: Both Artificial Life and Artificial Mind are branches of what
    Dennett has called "reverse engineering": Ordinary engineering attempts
    to build systems to meet certain functional specifications; reverse
    bioengineering attempts to understand how systems that have already
    been built by the Blind Watchmaker work. Computational modelling
    (virtual life) can capture the formal principles of life, perhaps
    predict and explain it completely, but it can no more BE alive than a
    virtual forest fire can be hot. In itself, a computational model is
    just an ungrounded symbol system; no matter how closely it matches the
    properties of what is being modelled, it matches them only formally,
    with the mediation of an interpretation. Synthetic life is not open to
    this objection, but it is still an open question how close a functional
    equivalence is needed in order to capture life. Close enough to fool
    the Blind Watchmaker is probably close enough, but would that require
    molecular indistinguishability, and if so, do we really need to go that far?