How the Body Shapes the Way We Think, by Rolf Pfeifer and Josh Bongard
Brain Science Podcast Episode 25 is an interview of author Rolf Pfeifer, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Zurich. The focus of our conversation was the importance of embodiment. Brains (and intelligence) cannot be understood separate from their interaction with the body and the physical world. Pfeifer explains how this realization has led the field of artificial intelligence away from a pure computational approach to one he calls embodied artificial intelligence. His interview is spiced with numerous examples that demonstrate why this approach is relevant to those of us who are interested in the human brain.
How to get this episode:
- A brief overview of artificial intelligence.
- Introduction to biorobotics.
- Why artificial intelligence and biorobotics are relevant to understand the brain.
- The meaning of complexity and emergence.
- Why the close coupling of the sensory and motor systems is essential to intelligence.
- Applying design principles to understanding intelligence.
- Numerous examples make these potentially intimidating topics accessible to all listeners.
- I also introduced a new way for listeners to support the Brain Science Podcast
Related episodes of the Brain Science Podcast:
- BSP #2 On Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins (listen to Episode 2) - this brief review does not get into Hawkin's discussion of the problems with traditional artificial intelligence, but I highly recommend On Intelligence for more on the subject.
- BSP #15 Interview with Dr. Read Montague (listen to episode 15).
- Dr. Montague introduces the computational theory of mind, which is a different way of approaching some of the problems I discussed with Dr. Pfeifer.
Scientists mentioned in the podcast:
- 1986 published the paper that launched the embodied approach to artificial intelligence, Brooks, R.A. (1986). A robust layered control system for a mobile robot. IEEE Journal of Robotics and Automation, 2(1): 14–23.
Books by Rodney Brooks:
- Flesh and Machines: How Robots will Change US.
- Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI.
- Interview on Talking Robots podcast (download mp3).
- Gerald M.Edelman, MD, PhD.
- won the Nobel Prize in 1972 for work in understanding the structures of antibodies.
- developed a theory know as Neural Darwinism, which he describes in several books including Wider Than the Sky: The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness.
- was just interviewed on Talking Robots (November 23, 2007).
Where to learn more about Pfeifer's work:
- his home page.
- Pfeifer's interview on Talking Robots (Download mp3).
- Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Zurich.
- How the Body Shapes the Way We Think: a new view of Intelligence (2007), Rolf Pfeifer and Josh Bongard.
- Understanding Intelligence (1999), Rolf Pfeifer and Christian Scheier.