Publication 4519

Sharkey N. E. & Ziemke T. (2001) Mechanistic vs. phenomenal embodiment: Can robot embodiment lead to strong AI? Cognitive Systems Research 2(4): 251–262. Fulltext at
Embodiment has become the raison d’etre for much of the new ‘cognitive robotics’. It fills a gap in the non-interactivist approach of traditional artificial intelligence (AI) in which ‘intelligence’ is viewed as the manipulation of symbols in a vacuum. However, a foundational question for the new AI is, can embodiment lead to a strong AI, i.e. a robot mind? To address this question, two extreme poles of embodiment are distinguished here, mechanistic and phenomenal. A detailed exploration of each type of embodiment is provided together with an appraisal of whether strong embodiment is possible for robotics, or whether robotics merely provides a tool for scientific exploration and modelling, i.e. weak embodiment? It is argued that strong embodiment, either mechanistic or phenomenal, is not possible for present day robots. However, weak embodiment may provide an enlightened approach to using robots for modelling cognition.

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