Excerpt: There has been a long-standing debate – from Leibnitz to Lady Lovelace to the present – over whether purely computational devices are capable of fundamentally-creative, truly emergent behavior. This paper will discuss various kinds of devices capable of emergent behaviors and take up the question of whether we can by purely computational means amplify our capacities as observers and actors in the physical world.
Kuniyoshi Y., Yorozu Y., Suzuki S., Sangawa S. & Nagakubo A. (2007) Emergence and development of embodied cognition: A constructivist approach using robots. Progress in Brain Research 164: 425–445.
A constructivist approach to cognition assumes the minimal and the simplest set of initial principles or mechanisms, embeds them in realistic circumstances, and lets the entire system evolve under close observation. This paper presents a line of research along this approach trying to connect embodiment to social cognition. First, we show that a mere physical body, when driven toward some task goal, provides a clear information structure, for action execution and perception. As a mechanism of autonomous exploration of such structure, “embodiment as a coupled chaotic field” is proposed, with experiments showing emergent and adaptive behavior. Scaling up the principles, a simulation of the fetal/neonatal motor development is presented. The musculo-skeletal system, basic nervous system, and the uterus environment are simulated. The neural-body dynamics exhibit spontaneous exploration of a variety of motor patterns. Lastly, a robotic experiment is presented to show that visual-motor self-learning can lead to neonatal imitation.