aims at the design of a cognitive robot that is able to develop
perceptual, behavioural and cognitive categories in a measurable way
and communicate and share these with humans and other artificial
agents. The main paradigm of the project is that Objects
and Actions are inseparably intertwined
and that categories are therefore determined (and also limited) by
the action an agent can perform and by the attributes of the world it
can perceive; the resulting, so-called
(OACs) are the entities on which cognition develops (action-centred
cognition). Entities (“things”) in the world of a robot (or
human) will only become semantically useful “objects” through the
action that the agent can/will perform on them.
We note that
other agents can here take the role of an “object with active
properties” without violating the general ideas as shall be
detailed below. Objects are not just "things" upon which
active agents act, but may be able to execute their own actions. Thus
each active agent is just another instance of an OAC. This paradigm
of OACs offers two novel key issues which will assure that a system
with advanced cognitive properties can be developed.
Issue 1 Continuous path to cognition and language:
We will demonstrate that the concept of OACs leads to a natural
and uninterrupted (continuous) path from early perception-action
events towards complex cognitive properties as well as to the
development of language by the following, here abbreviated steps.
As explained above,
Object-Action complexes are categories with inherent semantics.
The modification of OACs through exploration, interaction and
learning leads to new OACs (novelty, creativity).
The combination of OACs to more
complex ones can be seen as an internal, implicit reasoning
process leading to higher levels of abstraction and more
The sharing of the same OACs
between human and agent through their interaction will set the basis
for the development of shared, hence mutually grounded,
symbols (e.g.; replacing an action on an object with a
“pointer” to it that both understand.
The making-explicit of these
symbols will create a simple language (ranging from signs
Shared language developed from shared symbols which came from
shared OACs will allow for explicit reasoning and
communication; creating an advanced cognitive human-robot
interaction system. We believe that this path will allow us to
approach the signal-symbol problem in a rather fundamental way (how
to arrive at meaningful symbols from bare signals).
Key Issue 2 A unified measure of success and progress:
As opposed to all existing other approaches the concept of OACs (and
their natural extension into the symbol/language domain) offers the
advantage to formalize a general measure of success.
Following their drive/motivation, agents will either seek to
minimize disturbances which arrive at them from their environment, or
they will actively seek to maximize some kind of reward. PACO-PLUS
will develop a measure to quantify the success in disturbance
minimization and/or reward maximization using the same evaluative
functions at all stages 1-5 above. The process of decision
making and planning, which is vital to cognition, can now be
phrased in terms of how to bias the evaluating functions with respect
to the context provided by environment and internal states
(intentions, drives) of the agent.
assumption behind our approach is that the conjoint application of
Key Issues 1 and 2 will lead to a gradual, continuous and controlled
emergence of cognitive properties in a process of interactions with
objects and other cognitive agents by means of shared categories.
Since these categories are limited by the action of agents, it is
of central importance for the project to investigate how they can
develop on a sufficiently complex anthropomorphic robot.
Anthropomorphism is desirable because it makes interaction easier and
also supports the transfer of ideas from psychology and neuroscience
Key Issue 3:
Hence PACO-PLUS will undertake
the development of a richly integrated robotic system with humanoid
traits to support interaction with people. The theoretical
assumptions which underlie this approach are that OAC representations
shared between humans and the robot will lead to mutually grounded
symbols facilitating language development.