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"Synthetic Modeling of Life and Cognition: Open Questions"

12-14th September 2013, University of Bergamo, Italy

DUMOUCHEL Paul September 2013

This international workshop which was held over three days at the University of Bergamo in Italy was jointly organized by the University of Bergamo, EUCOG (European Network for the Advancement of Artificial Cognitive Systems, Interactions and Robotics, http://www.eucognition.org/) with the participation of Ars Vivendi. It regrouped forty one scholars from diverse disciplines and ten different countries. (More complete information on the workshop can be found at the following website: http://www.pt-ai.org/smlc).

The fundamental goals of the workshop were first to enquire into the advantages and limitations of the synthetic approach to life and cognition as opposed to the more traditional analytic approach which is currently found in science. The fundamental motto of the synthetic methodology could be summarized by glearning through doingh. Instead of simply analyzing the realities of one wants to study the idea is to realize artificial systems that manifest the appropriate behaviors under inquiry. Thus we will really know what life is when we can artificially make living systems and we will really know what cognition is once we can make artificial systems that can know the world in the way in which we do. One of the interests of this approach is that it leaves open the possibility that both life and cognition as we know then correspond to only one or a few among many other possible ways of knowing and of living.

Not surprisingly the two main domains which today enthusiastically embrace the synthetic methodology are social robotics and synthetic life. These two fields of inquiry were at the center of the disciplines represented in the workshop along with cognitive science, computer science, developmental psychology as well as philosophy. The second objective of the workshop was to establish a bridge, as much as possible, between researchers working in the biological sciences and those working in robotics and related disciplines.

The workshop adopted an gopen questionsh format, which means that apart from the contributions of a small core of invited speakers, papers were accepted on the basis of a series of open questions which had been made accessible in advance on the website. Candidates submitted papers in response to the open questions and this insured more coherence and unity in the following discussion. Overall the meeting was a resounding success. It is rare that participants from so many different disciplines manage to exchange so fruitfully. It is clear that the dialogue between the biological sciences and research in artificial cognition needs to be deepened, but the conversation has been initiated and the goal is to organize another similar meeting during the next fiscal year.

Paul Dumouchel
Ritsumeikan University

UPFSeptember 26, 2013@REV: