Joanna Bryson (Bath University)

I will give a quick, cognitive/computer scientist-skewed overview of how the brain works. I will complain briefly about anyone who produces homogenous / monolithic models of animal-like learning or control systems. I will talk about attributes of dominant architectures for complete (animal-like) agents, and how they may correlate to things we know the brain does. If time permits I'll do a slide on Carruther's recent BBS article about language as THE cross-modular organizational structure and why I don't believe it.

William Edmondson (Birmingham)

Building an Intelligent System with a Brain.

  1. We need to be clear that we, and thereby our audiences, mean more than just a souped-up version of existing (so-called) intelligent systems (rule-based, case-based, whatever...), for tackling specific problems, domains (say, an expert-system for medical diagnosis for practitioner support). What we are interested in achieving is profoundly different in scale, ambition, motivation, and potential (not just when we succeed).
  2. We should be able to locate any account of what we attempt in an evolutionary and pan-specific context. This does not mean we must first solve problems of evolution of intelligence and species differentiation but it does mean we must have some strong views about these issues and we must have done some reality checks on our models (no point building a complex model of a human brain which can simply be demonstrated to be infeasible when set in the context of other species).
  3. We need to be clear about the functionality of the brain - any brain - and we must attempt to work with a functional specification which is not simply a restatement of things we care about (thus perpetuating our professional biases....).
  4. We may need to make significant developments in theoretical presuppositions before going on to model a developing human brain. For example, I have argued that the functionality of the brain must cover the sequential imperative (about which I will say a little). Additionally, we may need to extend our notion of homeostasis to include complex cognitive/social assessments. Both homeostasis and the sequential imperative can be cast in evolutionary and pan-specific context - which is not to say that these are uniquely privileged concepts but is to say that they are examples of what must be considered.

Edmund Furse (Imitation.uk.com)

Architecture of Brain and Mind

I believe that attempting to specify and design a robot equivalent to a 3-5 year old child is a very ambitious goal. But I also believe that it is a worthwhile goal, and an achievable goal, but not necessarily in ten years.

The human brain and mind are extremely complex mechanisms but I believe that with appropriate resources and approach we can unravel much of their mystery sufficient to be able to achieve our goal.

We should probably support more than one research methodology. I wish to propose a methodology that is appropriate to a long-term research project of this type. I have used it successfully in two long-term research projects of my own: the mathematics understander (15 years) and imitation learning (10 years+).

Essentially we need to collect very detailed data about a child's behaviour. This data can be analysed in depth to determine patterns and generalities. From this emerges proposals for architectures, mechanisms and data structures.

Various strands of knowledge need to be linked together:
* behaviour
* neural architecture
* computational mechanisms
* computational theories

It is probably not possible to design the robot entirely bottom up from an analysis of a child's behaviour. Indeed it would be rash to ignore the vast amount already known about the brain's architecture and its methods of processing. Thus as we attempt to build an architecture for the robot it will have to relate to the actual architecture of the human child's brain, or at least our current understanding of it.

Similarly, it is likely that many of the computational mechanisms that we invent for the robot will be related to already known mechanisms in AI and computer science. But we probably need completely novel mechanisms and need to ensure that our vision is not blinkered by our knowledge of the existing AI mechanisms. Indeed few existing AI mechanisms are actually consistent with the sort of architecture that we will be proposing.

In relation to learning I believe that the human child has many different learning mechanism, and only a few of these are already understood by cognitive science. I propose that we should do detailed studies of one or more children from about 6 months until the age of five. These studies would be very invasive and clearly require parental consent and appropriate discussion of the ethical difficulties. But a full 100% video recording of a child as it grows up would be invaluable data for this grand challenge project. Ideally we would want five or more such children for study.

If we believe in the strong AI hypothesis, as I do, then it seems reasonable to me that we should be able to analyse the videos of the child growing up and produce a detailed predictive model of his or her behaviour. But we would need really detailed and complete data for such research to work. For example, in relation to language learning, if we know everything that the child has heard in the past, then we should be able to make reasonable predictions about future utterances in specific situations. Naturally as the child gets older exact and equal predictions become impossible because the child becomes autonomous and there are too many variables, not to mention randomness in the way behaviour turns out.

The architecture of brain and mind is an excellent grand challenge, but I believe that we need to ensure that our methodologies are consistent with the goal of the research. We must avoid just building a robot based on our current understanding of AI, cognitive science, neuroscience, linguistics etc. The project's goal should focus research in these disciplines working together to achieve the objective.

Sophie Kain (Thales Research and Technology)

Networking proposal to support researchers interested in the Grand Challenge.

Mark Lee (Univ. of Wales, Aberystwyth)

Developmental Learning and its importance for Brain and Mind

Early development in the human neonate is at its most intense during the first year of life. I will give a brief presentation explaining why this is so vital for machine intelligence and describe some work that aims to approach this difficult area by combining results from existing psychological data with algorithmic architectures that are compatible with both the neural substrate and the behavioural domain.

Murray Shanahan (Imperial College)

Intelligence and Imagination: Why We Need Both for Grand Challenge 5

I will outline the case for putting the Imagination centre-stage in any architecture that could have a chance of fulfilling the ambitions of Grand Challenge 5. The Imagination, according to my definition, rehearses trajectories through an abstraction of sensory-motor space, and potentially forms the basis for endowing a robot with a capacity for spatial reasoning, planning, inner speech, and creative problem solving.

Last updated: 3 Jan 2004
Aaron Sloman