How Philosophy of Mind Influences Artificial Intelligence

The latest episode of Talking Robots is an interview with Inman Harvey of the University of Sussex.  He observes that when researchers attempt to build autonomous robots, their approach is strongly influenced by their philosophy of mind, even if that philosophy is only implicit.  He also points out that what he calls "good old-fashioned AI" fails to represent how brains really work.

This is a point I have emphasized repeatedly.  Inman observes that approaches liked embodied artificial intelligence (which we discussed with Rolf Pfeifer in Episode 25) are really based on a different philosophy of mind that "good old-fashioned AI."

His paper, Philosophy of Mind Using a Screwdriver, is available as a PDF.

Jeff Hawkins Talks About Why Computers Aren't More Like Brains

I often emphasize the fact that our brains our different from computers.  If you would like to read an article that comes at the subject from the opposite direction (computers are not brains), read this summary of a recent talk given by Jeff Hawkins about "why computers can't be more like a brain on Dean Takahashi's Tech Talk Blog.

Jeff Hawkins was the co-founder of Palm, Inc. and he is author of On Intelligence, which was discussed in the Brain Science Podcast  Episode 2.

Embodied Intelligence with Rolf Pfeifer (BSP 25)


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:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Episode Highlights:

  • 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:

Scientists mentioned in the podcast:

    Rodney Brooks

    Books by Rodney Brooks:

    Where to learn more about Pfeifer's work: