Exploratory Workshop on Cognitive Robotics and Control

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Cybernetics


Cognitive robots - robots that may be said to think for themselves - appear in science fiction in the not too distant future. They replace humans in mundane chores (e.g. laundry), hazardous occupations (e.g. mine clearing) and caring (e.g. nursing the elderly). Considering that we do not fully understand the workings of our own mind and brain, how can we build such machines? The last few years of research into Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Philosophy and Neuroscience have given insights into our ability to replicate human behaviour in artificial systems. Androids are appearing more lifelike, computer programs mine databases for new pharmaceutical drugs, we distinguish between cognition versus consciousness and imaging techniques are mapping the pathways in the brain. No longer are robots constructed preprogrammed or purely reactive to their environment. Robots can perform routine operations and react to disturbances in familiar situations. However, in complex tasks and varied environments they fail whilst humans succeed. A human's robust skills exhibit cognitive control where self-knowledge and self-adaptation in the underlying processes result in flexibility and adaptability to our environments. A 2 1/2 day workshop is proposed to examine cognitive robots and cognitive control. Now is the time for leading and future UK researchers to meet with researchers from the US and other EC countries to work on the principles underlying the next generation of robots that seek to possess cognition and cognitive control. This work may also help us understand how our own mind functions by providing artificial test subjects. This workshop will help place the UK in the centre of cognitive robotics research. It will facilitate international collaboration and set the agenda for research in this exciting field. Robots will enter our daily lives with increasing frequency so this research is vital if their potential is to be fully utilised in an acceptable manner.


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