Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science,
The University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT


Born 1936, QueQue Southern Rhodesia (now Zimmbabwe). After a degree in mathematics and physics at Cape Town (1956) won a Rhodes Scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford 1957-60, to study mathematics. Became more interested in logic, then Philosophy of mathematics, and switched to philosophy. Senior Scholar at St Antony's College 1960-62. DPhil completed 1962. Lecturer in philosophy of science at Hull university, 1962-4, then moved to University of Sussex 1964-91, apart from aa year (1972-3) in Edinburgh converting to AI. At Sussex helped to start undergraduate courses in AI and later the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences. Helped with development of the Pop-11 programming language the Poplog development environment and much AI teaching material. GEC-funded research professor 1984-6. Moved to Birmingham University as reluctant head of school 1991. (Ceased headship 1994). Officially retired 2002 but continued doing research as Honorary Professor of AI and Cognitive science.
1991: Elected fellow of AAAI (Association for the Advancement of AI)
1997: Elected honorary life fellow of AISB
1999: Elected fellow of ECCAI European Coordinating Committee on AI

2006: Honorary DSc, awarded July 2006, Sussex University
Now working on the Meta-Morphogenesis project:



Born in Que Que (now KweKwe), Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), 1936.
Here's a map with annotations (zoom in and click)
Went to school there till 1948 then school (SACS) and university (UCT) in Cape Town
(BSc mathematics and physics 1956 1st class).
Won a Rhodes Scholarship (SACS constituency) and went to Oxford (Balliol College, October 1957) to study mathematics, but eventually got seduced by philosophy
(DPhil 1962), after toying with mathematical logic for while.
(I had Hao Wang as supervisor while studying mathematical logic, then David Pears after I switched to philosophy -- I don't think he was very interested in what I was doing. Richard M. Hare was my 'Personal Tutor' at Balliol. We got on very well and I learnt a lot from him, and, for a while, helped with some of his philosophy tutoring.)

Started teaching Philosophy at Hull University in 1962, then moved to Sussex in 1964. Spent 1972-3 in Edinburgh as Senior Visiting Fellow, and was converted to "AI as the best way to do philosophy." I learnt more in that year than in any other year of my life since about the age of 4.

Returned to Sussex October 1973, and helped (with Max Clowes, Margaret Boden, Alistair Chalmers, then later Steve Hardy, John Lyons, Gerald Gazdar and others) to develop a Cognitive Studies Programme in the School of Social Sciences which eventually grew into the Sussex School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences. (SOCS)

Over the years dabbled in vision (perhaps the hardest unsolved problem in AI, psychology and neuroscience), the study of forms of representation, motivation and emotion, architectures for complete agents, how to build a mathematician (starting at about age 3 or 4), design of robots of the future, the evolution of powerful learning strategies, trajectories in design space and niche space, philosophical problems about mind, emotion, mathematics, causation and meta-ethics, and good ways to teach novices programming and AI, and how to make computing the centre of a new kind of liberal education -- an aim defeated by politics, economics, lack of suitable teachers, and the presence of the wrong sorts of computer systems in schools all round the world. (For more see my 'my-doings' file.)

Managed the development of Poplog, a sophisticated multi-language design environment, for exploratory research and teaching in AI and Cognitive Science, at Sussex between about 1980 and 1991. (Find out more about it here). Poplog won a UK Government 'SMART' award for Integral Solutions Ltd around 1991 for achieving sales of over 5 million dollars, and was the basis of the development of Clementine among other commercial products. Poplog is now a free open source system. I manage the web site.

Obtained grants for development of poplog, and for research in vision. In 1984-6 was awarded a GEC Research Fellowship (not applied for). Grants from the Renaissance Trust supported my work.

After 27 years at Sussex wanted a change so moved to Birmingham in 1991, when offered a research chair. Foolishly agreed (under strong pressure from VC) to be Head of School of Computer Science at first, but in 1994 became a research professor, working on architectures for human-like agents, a toolkit for exploring agent architectures, motivation, emotion, vision, causation, consciousness and related problems. Passed UK academic retirement age in 2001 but have continued to work full time, living on pension!

Grants from the UK Joint Council initiative on HCI, the Renaissance Trust, DERA, the Leverhulme trust, and the EC have supported this research. More recent grants are listed here

Longer (disorganised) version of CV (PDF) (I am not job-hunting, so don't maintain this. See the CogAff web site for new papers, presentations, etc. Or Google Scholar's (unreliable) list of publications it thinks are mine)

Talks/Presentations (mostly invited) since 2001

Bits of recognition since 1991:

1991: Elected fellow of American Association for AI, (now renamed "Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence") in 1991. (Second wave of elections.).

1997: Elected honorary life fellow of AISB (one of the first group of three fellows) See

1999: Elected fellow of ECCAI, European Coordinating Committee on AI (first wave). See

2004: Made Fellow of WIF: The World Innovation Foundation (Note about WIF)

2005: Became a member of UK Computing Research Commmittee (UKCRC)

2006: Honorary DSc, awarded July 2006 Sussex University.

Additional points.

Wrote The Computer Revolution in Philosophy in 1978 (freely available since Sept 2001, with notes and comments added from time to time).

Most of this web site can be seen as a sequel to that book including published papers, technical reports, discussion notes and slide presentations in various directories:

My talks (research and teaching presentations) the Cognition and Affect papers Overview of Meta-Morphogenesis project (Extending Turing's 1952 ideas about Morphogenesis to the study of processes of evolution, development, learning, and social change affecting biological information processing, starting from a cloud of dust.)

Papers in the CoSy research project
Miscellaneous online papers, discussion notes and postings to bulletin boards, etc.

I maintain the Free Poplog distribution directory, at Includes: The SimAgent Toolkit

From about November 2002 I was actively involved in helping to define and promote one of the research Grand Challenges selected by the UKCRC, namely Grand Challenge 5 (GC5): Architecture of Brain and Mind, a project aiming to replicate an interesting subset of a typical human child (not a new-born infant) in a robot. (Since about 2008 this has been led by Leslie Smith, at Stirling university).

My home page has further details.

Things I have done, over the years

Prompted by Linda World, who was writing an article about me for the 'Histories and Futures' section of IEEE Intelligent Systems (published July/August 2005), I started to assemble a hypertext summary of things I've done and worked on.

Inspired by reading Turing on Morphogenesis in 2011, started the Meta-Morphogenesis project to unify many things I had previously been working on.

All of this would not have been possible without Alison (Shown at an orienteering event).

Maintained by Aaron Sloman
Last updated 12 Jun 2008; 2 Feb 2013; 14 Mar 2013; 22 Nov 2014