Some Video Presentations relevant to
the Cognition and Affect Project
and, since 2012,
The Meta-Morphogenesis project

See also: my Youtube videos (talks and demos, including Poplog tutorials):

Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK

List of updates at end.

(Needs to be reorganised.)


  • Videos of children and animals used in some of my presentations
    (In another directory with separate index)

  • Short (9 min) schematic video introduction to meta-configured genome
    Also on Youtube:
    This short edited extract from the next video, attempts to show the power of a multi-layered genome, in which the more recently evolved layers are increasingly abstract/schematic, making use of "parameters" acquired during earlier stages of gene expression, which can vary enormously in different contexts, leading to enormous differences in adult competences. This is a far more powerful mechanism than Lamarck's notion of "inheritance of acquired characteristics", partly because the young organism doesn't merely benefit from parental learning, but can benefit from, and contribute to, a rich, jointly constructed external store of information. (Something like Popper's "Third World".) Mathematical development and linguistic development are special cases.
  • Pre-recorded Invited talk at Sharif Spring School on AI Philosophy, Ethics, and Society, April 2019
    Also avilable on Youtube (including text captions if requested)

    The video includes samples from two BBC videos
    Illustrating the challenges in building weaver-bird nests, using a large number
    of long thin leaves.
    Deaf children in Nicaragua develop a new sign language cooperatively
    (Illusrating my claim that languages are mainly created, cooperatively, rather than learnt from existing speakers. The latter would not have allowed human languages to come into existence without some non-human teachers...)

    Web page with notes for talk and additional material: (also pdf)
    The University:

  • Why can't (current) machines reason like Euclid or even human toddlers?
    (And many other intelligent animals)

    Invited talk for Workshop at IJCAI 2017 Melbourne
    Workshop on Architectures for Generality and Autonomy
    Online notes for the talk
    Pre-recorded Invited talk at IJCAI-17 Workshop
    More detail:

  • How visual systems can use topology and partial orderings to avoid the need for probabilistic reasoning. Two short videos (8MB and 78MB).
    Added 4 Aug 2016
    These videos were originally produced in 2014 as background to a paper arguing in favour of avoiding the need for precise measurement and probabilistic reasoning by making use of topological relationships and partial orderings, here
    Predicting Affordance Changes
    (Steps towards knowledge-based visual servoing)

  • How Seymour Papert made me understand gyroscopes (33MB Video)
    In 1973 during my year in Edinburgh in Bernard Meltzer's Department of Computational Logic (one of the four AI departments in Edinburgh at the time) I was introduced by Sylvia Weir to Seymour Papert, who was visiting for a short time. I remember very little of the context, but I do remember that while I was walking with Sylvia and Seymour the subject of gyroscopes came up, and he offered to give an explanation of their counter-intuitive behaviour that was unforgettable. This little (unscripted) four minute video (without a gyroscope) is my clumsy attempt to present the explanation he gave. He claimed I would never forget the explanation. He was right. Unlike text-book explanations this explanation is purely qualitative: it allows one to understand in which (intuitively surprising) direction a gyroscope will move in response to an attempt to tilt its axis of rotation. The explanation and the prediction are both qualitative rather than quantitative, but perfectly adequate for explaining a surprising qualitative feature of the observed motion. (More maths and physics teaching should be like that, e.g. in primary schools.)

  • 9th December 2012; (Updated 29 Sep 2013)
    Adam Ford interviewed Aaron Sloman (Youtube) at the AGI-2012 Conference, Oxford,
    on topics related to the evolution of intelligence and prospects for AI.
    A reduced .webm version (120MB) is available here (WEBM).

    An (edited) transcript of the interview (HTML) is now available
    Thanks to help from Dylan Holmes (MIT).
    Also an expanded PDF version of the transcript, with additional references.

    I gave a tutorial presentation the following day, listed below.

    Margaret Boden's interview by Adam Ford at AGI 2012 is also available, on Youtube here.
    We both emphasise the importance of getting questions right and give examples of bad
    questions, but our examples are different.

  • What's information? An Answer from Physics, Biology, Mind-Science and Philosophy
    Youtube video available:
    Also a 'local' version of the video, here:
    Local version of video (WEBM 196MB)
    Presentation by Aaron Sloman (Chaired by Aviv Keren) at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, on 2nd June 2016, on the final day of:
         Workshop on Information and Information-Processing in Science:
         Biology, Physics & Brain & Cognitive Sciences.

    Unfortunately the audio quality is very poor much of the time.
    Instead of power-point (or equivalent) the talk used a web page (slightly expanded after the talk):

    Like most of my talks this emphasises the fact that focusing on information as something to be transmitted or encoded is a serious error: information is important for living things and in engineering primarily because it is used, e.g. for various types of control. Requirements for acquisition, encoding, storage, transformation, and manipulation are all derived from the need to use information, ever since the very simplest biological organisms. One of the implications is that languages used for internal purposes evolved long before languages for communication, but this has largely been ignored by linguists, philosophers, engineers, etc., though it should have been recognised long ago by all who develop computer programs.

    Full information about the workshop is scattered over several web pages, accessible from:

    Full programme for the workshop (PDF):
    The 30th Annual International Workshop on the History and Philosophy of Science
    Research Workshop of the Israel Science Foundation
    Monday-Thursday, 30 May - 2 June, 2016
    Book of abstracts for all the presentations (PDF):
    All the videos are available here

  • Evolved Construction-kits for Building Minds
    Two talks in Jerusalem on January 21st 2016 on Evolved Construction Kits.
    Part of the Ada Lovelace Bicentenary Lectures on Computability, 2015-2016, Jerusalem.
    Summary of full programme:
    (My two-part lecture available on Youtube and here at Bham):

  • 2 Hour Tutorial lecture at ESSENCE Summer School, Edinburgh 2015.
    Construction kits for evolution.

    Video recording of my presentation available here (and on essence site below):
    Local copy of Sloman tutorial 501MB (webm -- slightly better quality)
    Video recording of my presentation and other presentations are available on youtube:

  • 50 Years AI: Symposium at KI 2006, Bremen, Germany
    with Marvin Minsky, Aaron Sloman, Wolfgang Bibel, Joerg Siekmann, Wolfgang Wahlster, Sebastian Thrun, Hiroshi Ishiguro, Simon Schmitt.
    The Bremen web site contains the full conference presentations and discussions: available here:
    (Thanks to Professor Christian Freksa and colleagues in Bremen.)
    One of the lectures has been copied here:
    (Updated 27 Mar 2016):
    Video of lecture by Aaron Sloman at 50year AI Conference Bremen 2006 234MB (MP4)
    Slides for the talk are here
    Talk 37: Fundamental Questions - The Second Decade of AI
    Towards Architectures for Human-like Machines

  • 10th December 2012 (Installed 20 May 2013, updated 26th June)
    Adam Ford recorded a 2 hour 30 mins tutorial on Meta-Morphogenesis presented by Aaron Sloman at the AGI conference, Oxford, the day after the interview listed below.
    Tutorial abstract is here
       Meta-morphogenesis: How a planet can produce Minds, Mathematics and Music
       (along with murder, religious bigotry, and other nastiness).


    The video of the tutorial was originally uploaded on Friday 17th May 2013, but with some errors, and audio deficiencies. A revised version was installed on Adam Ford's web site on 14th June 2013.
    Slides finished after the event can be found here (PDF) and on in Flash format.

    The tutorial did not exactly follow the slides I had prepared, partly because it was
    highly interactive, partly because there was confusion about the start time, so some
    examples were presented while people were still coming in.

  • September 2012
    "What is computational thinking? Who needs it? Why? How can it be learnt?"
    MP4 Local copy (here.)
    Invited talk at ALT-C 2012, Manchester, Sept 2012 (without slides).
    Slide presentation, revised and extended after the talk can be found here,
    and in flash format on here.

  • September 2011 (Installed here 12 Jan 2014)
    Presentation at BCBT Summer school, Sept 2011, Barcelona. (1.7GB)
    Barcelona Cognition Brain and Technology Summer school
    Compressed WEBM version 197MB stored here. (Replaced .mp4 version 23 Mar 2014)

    Title: How to combine science and engineering to solve philosophical problems
    NOTE: The BCBT web site provides an apology for sound quality:

    "During the video recording of this talk, the speaker's microphone malfunctioned (@ 00.45).
    The sound recording continued with a secondary room microphone, but the
    quality was affected, and afterwards enhanced to restore audibility as good as
    I first learnt about AI in 1969 when I was a lecturer in philosophy, and soon became convinced that the best way to make progress in solving a range of philosophical problems (e.g. in philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, epistemology, philosophy of emotions, and some parts of metaphysics) was to produce and analyse designs for successively larger working fragments of minds. I think that project can be enhanced by using it to pose new questions about transitions in the evolution of biological information-processing systems. I shall try to explain these relationships between AI, biology and philosophy and show how they can yield major new insights, while also inspiring important (and difficult) new research.

    Full list of talks (with videos)

  • A collection of video tutorials on Youtube:
    Introduction to Artificial Intelligence Programming (emphasising Thinky Programming)

    Using an AI language language, Pop11, including a powerful pattern matcher to
    simplify list processing, e.g. in programming a Chatbot and various other tasks.
    Includes introduction to use of the editor, use of 'espeak' to speak
    generated sentences and Haikus.
    Under continuous development, as more videos are added.
    Installed 2011.

  • Invited talk at 4th AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) 2011 Conference, 5th Aug 2011
    Downloadable video:
    The biological bases of mathematical competences: a challenge for AGI (.ogv 85MB)
    Youtube version: Friday Morning Keynote Sessions (Sloman and Boyden)

    Extended Abstract

    The conference was held at Google, Mountain View, USA.
    Full set of conference videos is here.

  • "TeachShare" Presentation to ComputingAtSchool 8th June 2011"
    The Science of Nearly Everything. Including Biology!
    (What does AI have to do with Biology?)
    Slides for the presentation.

  • Talk at Automatheo 2011 (April 2011, University of Oxford),
    installed here 12 Jul 2013

    Speaker: Aaron Sloman (University of Birmingham)
    Title: Evolution, robots and mathematics (Poor Audio)
    Youtube version

    Local version (Medium Resolution Flash 213MB):

  • Videos of Talks at SAB2010 Paris, August 2010
    Video of Aaron Sloman's talk (aaron_sloman.rm):
    Using virtual machinery to bridge the "explanatory gap"
    Or: Helping Darwin: How to Think About Evolution of Consciousness
    Or: How could evolution (or anything else) get ghosts into machines?
    NOTE: The web site seems to have disappeared. As far as I know the videos of all the
    keynote talks have been lost. If anyone knows where they are please let me know.
    Talks by the other two invited speakers (also lost when I last checked):

  • 2 Feb 2010
    If learning mathematics requires a teacher, where did the first teachers come from?
    Presentation at Nottingham University, Learning Sciences Research Institute
    Link to Video of the presentation.
    Also downloadable (as .wmv) here (about 638MB)
    (Includes Zeyn Saigol's refutation of my rubber-band star theorem.)
    See PDF presentation.

  • Sussex December 2008
    A New Approach to Philosophy of Mathematics: Design a young explorer, able to discover "toddler theorems"
    Talk given at Sussex university on 9th December 2008.
    The presentation at Sussex, including part of the discussion, was recorded on video by
    Nick Hockings and he has kindly made the resulting video available here (in three resolutions).
    (Update: unavailable since Dec 2009 -- new host being sought?)

    The video recording can also be viewed or downloaded here:
    (The .webm version was installed on 2 Feb 2017.)

    The PDF slides for the Sussex presentation, as shown on the video, are here (PDF).

    A revised and reorganised version of the slides used for a later presentation on the
    biological basis of mathematical competences can be found here.

  • Videos from ENF'07 Vienna (Added 20 Nov 2009; more on 5 Jan 2013):
    ENF07' 2007 Emulating the Mind
    (Link may be broken now.)
    1st international Engineering and Neuro-Psychoanalysis Forum (ENF), Vienna, July 2007
    Held in conjunction with:
    INDIN 2007 the 5th International Conference on Industrial Informatics,
    sponsored by the Industrial Electronics Society of the IEEE

    Jaak Panksepp and I both gave invited presentations at ENF, followed by a short discussion/debate.
    Our presentations and the discussion were recorded on video. The recordings are available
    here (below) and also at the web site associated with the book of the conference:

    Unfortunately the recordings were ruined by the fact that the camera was aimed only at our
    faces, completely ignoring what speakers were pointing at on the screen, so that several
    sections will be incomprehensible to viewers. However, anyone interested can see my
    slides, mentioned below.

  • Some audio interviews (e.g. with radio journalists) on philosophy and AI/Cognitive Science are here

  • Tutorial at Cosy Kickoff Conference, Bled, October 2004
    A Video recording of a tutorial presentation on integration at the Kickoff Conference of
    the CoSy project in Bled Slovenia, in October 2004 was recorded on video and is available
    both on the CoSy web site in the
    tutorials section and also on the Birmingham Cosy Web site here (.webm file about 183MB)

  • The Next Big Thing(video):
    A discussion chaired by Prof Colin Blakemore for BBC and Open University in 2002.
    "When the science of artificial intelligence was launched in the 50s, its goal was to
    match the intellectual achievements of human beings. Why isn't machine intelligence
    already far superior to that of people?"

    Chaired by Colin Blakemore, the panel consists of

    • Aaron Sloman (University of Birmingham),
    • Amanda Sharkey (University of Sheffield),
    • Igor Aleksander (Imperial College).

  • Two lectures on Philosophy, AI, and Biology
    for Conversion MSc and intercalated year students,
    School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, March 2015)

  • Installed: 29 Jan 2009
    Last updated:
    28 Apr 2019: some reorganisation and tidying of this web page.
    Also produced new shortened version of Sharif University lecture, with pauses removed.
    23 Apr 2019: Added short video talk on meta-configured-genome
    (Extracted from part of the Sharif conference talk.)
    20 Apr 2019: Added video talk for Sharif University conference.
    4 Aug 2016: Added pen-mug videos.
    27 Jul 2016: Added videos of a pair of talks in Jerusalem on evolved construction kits, at The Ada Lovelace Bicentenary Lectures on Computability, Jerusalem, presented on 21st January 2016.
    25 Jul 2016: Added video of talk in Jerusalem on information in philosophy and science (here).
    13 Apr 2016: Added video of 2hour Tutorial lecture at ESSENCE Summer School, Edinburgh 2015.
    27 Mar 2016: Added video of lecture at 50year AI Conference Bremen 2006
    31 Mar 2015 (Two new videos of lectures on AI added); 29 May 2015
    12 Jan 2014 (BCBT 2011 talk added); 17 Jun 2014 (conversion of old videos to webm)
    30 Jul 2013; 29 Sep 2013 (transcript added -- modified Jan 2014);
    5 Jan 2013; ....; 12 Jul 2013;
    20 Nov 2009; 12 Dec 2009; 22 Feb 2010; 13 Jan 2011; 26 Dec 2011;

    Maintained by Aaron Sloman
    School of Computer Science
    The University of Birmingham

    Copyright: All my materials are made available under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence.