Aaron Sloman University of Birmingham, University of Birmingham
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About me
Officially retired, but doing full time research as honorary professor of AI and Cognitive Science, in the School of Computer Science, Birmingham University, UK. My interests span several disciplines and I link them in ways that can sometimes make the ideas hard for specialists to follow. For more information, see: https://sites.google.com/site/slomanmetamorphogenesis/ ; http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~axs/my-doings.html ; http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/~axs/ ; http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/talks/ ; http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/ ; In particular, I think philosophy done well must take deep account of the contents of other sciences and also developments in technology, such as virtual machines that have transformed the problem of supervenience and challenged most philosophical theories of causation. The limitation to 10 areas of interest is too restrictive for me -- after more than five decades of research.
My works
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  1. Aaron Sloman, Virtual Machine Functionalism: The Only Form of Functionalism Worth Taking Seriously in Philosophy of Mind.
    Most philosophers appear to have ignored the distinction between the broad concept of Virtual Machine Functionalism (VMF) described in Sloman&Chrisley (2003) and the better known version of functionalism referred to there as Atomic State Functionalism (ASF), which is often given as an explanation of what Functionalism is, e.g. in Block (1995). -/- One of the main differences is that ASF encourages talk of supervenience of states and properties, whereas VMF requires supervenience of machines that are arbitrarily complex networks of causally (...)
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  2. Aaron Sloman (2013). What Else Can Brains Do? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (3):230-231.
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  3. Aaron Sloman (2011). Comments on “The Emulating Interview... With Rick Grush”. Avant 2 (2):35–44.
    Author comments Rick Grush’s statements about emulation and embodied approach to representation. He proposes his modification of Grush’s definition of emulation, criticizing notion of “standing in for”. He defends of notion of representation. He claims that radical embodied theories are not applicable to all cognition.
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  4. Aaron Sloman (2011). Ewolucja: inżynier systemów komputerowych projektujący umysły. Avant 2 (2).
    [Przekład] To, czego w ciągu ostatnich sześciu lub siedmiu tego nauczyliśmy się na temat wirtualnej maszynerii w wyniku dużego postępu nauki i techniki, umożliwia nam zaoferowanie stanowisku darwinowskiemu nowej obrony przeciw krytykom, którzy twierdzili, że jedynie forma fizyczna – a nie zdolności umysłowe czy świadomość – może być produktem ewolucji poprzez dobór naturalny. Obrona ta porównuje zjawiska umysłowe, wspominane przez przeciwników Darwina, z treściami maszynerii wirtualnej w systemach obliczeniowych. Obiekty, stany, zdarzenia i procesy w owej maszynerii, które dopiero od niedawna (...)
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  5. Aaron Sloman (2011). Evolution: The Computer Systems Engineer Designing Minds. Avant 2 (2):45–69.
    What we have learnt in the last six or seven decades about virtual machinery, as a result of a great deal of science and technology, enables us to offer Darwin a new defence against critics who argued that only physical form, not mental capabilities and consciousness could be products of evolution by natural selection. The defence compares the mental phenomena mentioned by Darwin’s opponents with contents of virtual machinery in computing systems. Objects, states, events, and processes in virtual machinery which (...)
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  6. Aaron Sloman (2011). Komentarze do „Emulującego wywiadu… z Rickiem Grushem”. Avant 2 (2).
    [Przekład] Author comments Rick Grush’s statements about emulation and embodied approach to representation. He proposes his modification of Grush’s definition of emulation, criticizing notion of “standing in for”. He defends of notion of representation. He claims that radical embodied theories are not applicable to all cognition.
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  7. Aaron Sloman (2010). An Alternative to Working on Machine Consciousness. International Journal of Machine Consciousness 2 (01):1-18.
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  8. Aaron Sloman (2010). Machine Consciousness: Response to Commentaries. International Journal of Machine Consciousness 2 (01):75-116.
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  9. Aaron Sloman (2010). Phenomenal and Access Consciousness and the "Hard" Problem: A View From the Designer Stance. International Journal of Machine Consciousness 2 (01):117-169.
  10. Aaron Sloman (2009). What Cognitive Scientists Need to Know About Virtual Machines. In. In N. A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. 1210--1215.
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  11. Aaron Sloman & Jackie Chappell (2007). Computational Cognitive Epigenetics. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30 (4):375-376.
    Jablonka & Lamb (J&L) refer only implicitly to aspects of cognitive competence that preceded both evolution of human language and language learning in children. These aspects are important for evolution and development but need to be understood using the design-stance, which the book adopts only for molecular and genetic processes, not for behavioural and symbolic processes. Design-based analyses reveal more routes from genome to behaviour than J&L seem to have considered. This both points to gaps in our understanding of evolution (...)
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  12. Aaron Sloman (2004). Damasio's Error. The Philosophers' Magazine 28 (28):61-64.
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  13. Aaron Sloman & Ronald L. Chrisley (2003). Virtual Machines and Consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies 10 (4-5):133-172.
    Replication or even modelling of consciousness in machines requires some clarifications and refinements of our concept of consciousness. Design of, construction of, and interaction with artificial systems can itself assist in this conceptual development. We start with the tentative hypothesis that although the word “consciousness” has no well-defined meaning, it is used to refer to aspects of human and animal informationprocessing. We then argue that we can enhance our understanding of what these aspects might be by designing and building virtual-machine (...)
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  14. Ron Chrisley, Aaron Sloman, Matthias Scheutz & Nick Hawes (2002). How Velmans' Conscious Experiences Affected Our Brains. Journal of Consciousness Studies 9 (11):58-62.
    Velmans’ paper raises three problems concerning mental causation: (1) How can consciousness affect the physical, given that the physical world appears causally closed? 10 (2) How can one be in conscious control of processes of which one is not consciously aware? (3) Conscious experiences appear to come too late to causally affect the processes to which they most obviously relate. In an appendix Velmans gives his reasons for refusing to resolve these problems through adopting the position (which he labels ‘physicalism’) (...)
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  15. Aaron Sloman (2002). Architecture-Based Conceptions of Mind. In Peter Gardenfors, Katarzyna Kijania-Placek & Jan Wolenski (eds.), In the Scope of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science (Vol Ii). Kluwer.
  16. Aaron Sloman (2002). How Many Separately Evolved Emotional Beasties Live Within Us. In Robert Trappl (ed.), Emotions in Humans and Artifacts. Bradford Book/Mit Press. 35--114.
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  17. Aaron Sloman (2002). The Irrelevance of Turing Machines to AI. In Matthias Scheutz (ed.), Computationalism: New Directions. MIT Press.
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  18. Aaron Sloman (2002). The Irrelevance of Turing Machines to Artificial Intelligence. In Matthias Scheutz (ed.), Computationalism: New Directions. MIT Press.
  19. Aaron Sloman, What Are Virtual Machines? Are They Real?
  20. Aaron Sloman (1996). Beyond Turing Equivalence. In Peter Millican Andy Clark (ed.), Machines and Thought The Legacy of Alan Turing. Oxford University Press. 1--179.
    What is the relation between intelligence and computation? Although the difficulty of defining `intelligence' is widely recognized, many are unaware that it is hard to give a satisfactory definition of `computational' if computation is supposed to provide a non-circular explanation for intelligent abilities. The only well-defined notion of `computation' is what can be generated by a Turing machine or a formally equivalent mechanism. This is not adequate for the key role in explaining the nature of mental processes, because it is (...)
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  21. Aaron Sloman (1996). What Sort of Architecture is Required for a Human-Like Agent? In Ramakrishna K. Rao (ed.), Foundations of Rational Agency. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    This paper is about how to give human-like powers to complete agents. For this the most important design choice concerns the overall architecture. Questions regarding detailed mechanisms, forms of representations, inference capabilities, knowledge etc. are best addressed in the context of a global architecture in which different design decisions need to be linked. Such a design would assemble various kinds of functionality into a complete coherent working system, in which there are many concurrent, partly independent, partly mutually supportive, partly potentially (...)
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  22. Aaron Sloman (1996). What Sort of Control System is Able to Have a Personality? In [Book Chapter].
    This paper outlines a design-based methodology for the study of mind as a part of the broad discipline of Artificial Intelligence. Within that framework some architectural requirements for human-like minds are discussed, and some preliminary suggestions made regarding mechanisms underlying motivation, emotions, and personality. A brief description is given of the `Nursemaid' or `Minder' scenario being used at the University of Birmingham as a framework for research on these problems. It may be possible later to combine some of these ideas (...)
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  23. Aaron Sloman, Ian Wright & Luc Beaudoin (1996). Towards a Design-Based Analysis of Emotional Episodes. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 3 (2):101-126.
  24. Ian Wright, Aaron Sloman & Luc Beaudoin (1996). Towards a Design-Based Analysis of Emotional Episodes. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 3 (2):101-126.
    he design-based approach is a methodology for investigating mechanisms capable of generating mental phenomena, whether introspectively or externally observed, and whether they occur in humans, other animals or robots. The study of designs satisfying requirements for autonomous agency can provide new deep theoretical insights at the information processing level of description of mental mechanisms. Designs for working systems (whether on paper or implemented on computers) can systematically explicate old explanatory concepts and generate new concepts that allow new and richer interpretations (...)
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  25. Ian Wright, Aaron Sloman & Luc J. Beaudoin (1996). Response to the Commentaries. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 3 (2):137-137.
  26. Aaron Sloman (1995). Musings on the Roles of Logical and Non-Logical Representations in Intelligence. In [Book Chapter].
    This paper offers a short and biased overview of the history of discussion and controversy about the role of different forms of representation in intelligent agents. It repeats and extends some of the criticisms of the `logicist' approach to AI that I first made in 1971, while also defending logic for its power and generality. It identifies some common confusions regarding the role of visual or diagrammatic reasoning including confusions based on the fact that different forms of representation may be (...)
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  27. A. Sloman (1994). Semantics in an Intelligent Control System. Philosophical Explorations.
    Much research on intelligent systems has concentrated on low level mechanisms or sub-systems of restricted functionality. We need to understand how to put all the pieces together in an \ul{architecture} for a complete agent with its own mind, driven by its own desires. A mind is a self-modifying control system, with a hierarchy of levels of control, and a different hierarchy of levels of implementation. AI needs to explore alternative control architectures and their implications for human, animal, and artificial minds. (...)
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  28. Aaron Sloman (1993). How to Dispose of the Free Will Issue. AISB Quarterlye 82:31-2.
  29. Aaron Sloman (1993). The Mind as a Control System. In Christopher Hookway & Donald M. Peterson (eds.), Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Cambridge University Press. 69-110.
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  30. Aaron Sloman (1992). Prolegomena to a Theory of Communication and Affect. In Andrew Ortony, Jon Slack & Oliviero Stock (eds.), Communication from an Artificial Intelligence Perspective: Theoretical and Applied Issues. Springer.
    As a step towards comprehensive computer models of communication, and effective human machine dialogue, some of the relationships between communication and affect are explored. An outline theory is presented of the architecture that makes various kinds of affective states possible, or even inevitable, in intelligent agents, along with some of the implications of this theory for various communicative processes. The model implies that human beings typically have many different, hierarchically organized, dispositions capable of interacting with new information to produce affective (...)
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  31. Aaron Sloman (1992). The Emperor's Real Mind -- Review of Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers Minds and the Laws of Physics. Artificial Intelligence 56 (2-3):355-396.
    "The Emperor's New Mind" by Roger Penrose has received a great deal of both praise and criticism. This review discusses philosophical aspects of the book that form an attack on the "strong" AI thesis. Eight different versions of this thesis are distinguished, and sources of ambiguity diagnosed, including different requirements for relationships between program and behaviour. Excessively strong versions attacked by Penrose (and Searle) are not worth defending or attacking, whereas weaker versions remain problematic. Penrose (like Searle) regards the notion (...)
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  32. Aaron Sloman (1991). Developing Concepts of Consciousness. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):694-695.
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  33. Aaron Sloman (1990). Must Intelligent Systems Be Scruffy. In J. E. Tiles, G. T. McKee & G. C. Dean (eds.), Evolving Knowledge in Natural Science and Artificial Intelligence. Pitman. 17.
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  34. Aaron Sloman (1988). Why Philosophers Should Be Designers. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11 (3):529.
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  35. Aaron Sloman (1987). Motives, Mechanisms, and Emotions. Cognition and Emotion 1 (3):217-233.
  36. Aaron Sloman (1986). Artificial Intelligence and its Applications. Chichester.
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  37. Aaron Sloman (1986). Did Searle Attack Strong Strong AI or Weak Strong AI? In Artificial Intelligence and its Applications. Chichester.
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  38. Aaron Sloman (1986). What Sorts of Machines Can Understand the Symbols They Use? Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 61:61-80.
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  39. Aaron Sloman (1982). Towards a Grammar of Emotions. New Universities Quarterly 36 (3):230-238.
    My favourite leading question when teaching Philosophy of Mind is ‘Could a goldfish long for its mother?’ This introduces the philosophical technique of ‘conceptual analysis’, essential for the study of mind (Sloman 1978, ch. 4). By analysing what we mean by ‘A longs for B’, and similar descriptions of emotional states we see that they inv olve rich cognitive structures and processes, i.e. computations. Anything which could long for its mother, would have to hav e some sort of representation of (...)
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  40. Aaron Sloman (1981). Deep and Shallow Simulations. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (4):548.
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  41. Martin Atkinson & Aaron Sloman (1980). The Computer Revolution in Philosophy. Philosophical Quarterly 30 (119):178.
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  42. Aaron Sloman (1980). What Kind of Indirect Process is Visual Perception? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):401.
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  43. Aaron Sloman & Monica Croucher (1980). How to Turn an Information Processor Into an Understander. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3 (3):447.
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  44. Aaron Sloman (1979). The Primacy of Non-Communicative Language. In M. MacCafferty & Kurt Gray (eds.), The Analysis of Meaning: Informatics 5, Proceedings Aslib/Bcs Conference. Aslib.
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  45. Aaron Sloman (1978). Artificial Intelligence and Empirical Psychology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1 (1):115.
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  46. Aaron Sloman (1978). The Computer Revolution in Philosophy: Philosophy Science and Models of Mind. Harvester.
    Since 1991 the author has been Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham, UK.
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  47. Aaron Sloman (1978). What About Their Internal Languages? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 1 (4):602.
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  48. A. Sloman (1976). What Are the Aims of Science. Radical Philosophy 13:7-17.
    If we are to understand the nature of science, we must see it as an activity and achievement of the human mind alongside others, such as the achievements of children in learning to talk and to cope with people and other objects in their environment, and the achievements of non-scientists living in a rich and complex world which constantly poses problems to be solved. Looking at scientific knowledge as one form of human knowledge, scientific understanding as one form of human (...)
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  49. Aaron Sloman (1971). Danto on Space Research and Epistemology. Inquiry 14 (1-4):174-181.
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  50. Aaron Sloman (1971). New Bodies for Sick Persons: Personal Identity Without Physical Continuity. Analysis 32 (2):52 - 55.
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  51. Aaron Sloman (1971). Tarski, Frege and the Liar Paradox. Philosophy 46 (176):133 - 147.
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  52. Aaron Sloman (1970). `Ought' and `Better'. Mind 79 (315):385-394.
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  53. Aaron Sloman (1970). Reviews. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):249-253.
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  54. Aaron Sloman (1969). How to Derive "Better" From "Is". American Philosophical Quarterly 6 (1):43 - 52.
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  55. Aaron Sloman (1969). Transformations of Illocutionary Acts. Analysis 30 (2):56 - 59.
    Speech-Act analyses of words like 'good', 'true', 'know' and 'probable' were criticised by j.R. Searle in "speech acts". I have tried to show how his criticisms can be met by an analysis in terms of operators on speech acts which 'transform' them into other speech-Acts. I conclude, Not that speech-Act analyses are correct, But that they survive searle's criticism.
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  56. A. Sloman (1968). Reviews. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):171-173.
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  57. Aaron Sloman (1968). Explaining Logical Necessity. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 69:33 - 50.
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  58. Aaron Sloman (1967). Predictive Policies: What Makes Some Policies Better Than Others? In Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume. Blackwell-Wiley. 57 - 94.
    Response to "Predictive Policies" by R.S.McGowan Mr. McGowan has assumed that there is a clear distinction between inductive inferences and others, that we all know how to make the distinction, that we all agree that the inductive ones are somehow better or more reasonable than the alternatives, and I have criticised all of these assumptions. Further he hasformulated the philosophical problem of induction as the problem of showing why the inductive ones are better, and he has attempted to show that (...)
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  59. Aaron Sloman (1967). Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume. Blackwell-Wiley.
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  60. Aaron Sloman (1965). Necessary', 'A Priori' and 'Analytic. Analysis 26 (1):12 - 16.
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  61. A. Sloman (1964). Rules of Inference, or Suppressed Premisses? Mind 73 (289):84-96.
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  62. Aaron Sloman (1964). Colour Incompatibilities and Analyticity. Analysis 24 (Suppl-2):104 - 119.
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  63. Aaron Sloman (1964). Wittgenstein's Logical Atomism. Philosophical Books 5 (3):8-10.
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  64. A. Sloman & R. L. Chrisley, More Things Than Are Dreamt of in Your Biology: Information-Processing in Biologically Inspired Robots.
    Animals and robots perceiving and acting in a world require an ontology that accommodates entities, processes, states of affairs, etc., in their environment. If the perceived environment (...)
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  65. Aaron Sloman, A New Kind of Liberal Education.
    Another book on how computers are going to change our lives? Yes, but this is more about computing than about computers, and it is more about how our thoughts may be changed than about how housework and factory chores will be taken over ... Thoughts can be changed in many ways. The invention of painting and drawing permitted new thoughts in the processes of creating and interpreting pictures. The invention of speaking and writing also permitted profound extensions of our abilities (...)
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  66. Aaron Sloman, Acquiring Orthogonal Recombinable Competences.
    It is conjectured that humans and some other altricial species instead use innate mechanisms for decomposing situations into components that can be explicitly learnt about, and stored in such a way that the competence can be re-used in combination with other learnt competences, in perceiving novel situations and performing novel actions.
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  67. Aaron Sloman, A Philosophical Encounter.
    This paper, along with the following paper by John Mc- Carthy, introduces some of the topics to be discussed at the IJCAI95 event `A philosophical encounter: An interactive presentation of some of the key philosophical problems in AI and AI problems in philosophy.' Philosophy needs AI in order to make progress with many difficult questions about the nature of mind, and AI needs philosophy in order to help clarify goals, methods, and concepts and to help with several (...)
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  68. Aaron Sloman, A (Possibly) New Kind of Euclidean Geometry Based on an Idea by Mary Pardoe.
    This file is http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/p-geometry.html From time to time I shall use html2ps and ps2pdf to create a PDF version, better suited for printing: http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/p-geometry.pdf The PDF version will probably have formatting flaws, and may not be up to date.
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  69. Aaron Sloman, Altricial Self-Organising Information-Processing Systems ∗.
    It is often thought that there is one key design principle or at best a small set of design principles, underlying the success of biological organisms. Candidates include neural nets, ‘swarm intelligence’, evolutionary computation, dynamical systems, particular types of architecture or use of a powerful uniform learning mechanism, e.g. reinforcement learning. All of those support types of self-organising, self-modifying behaviours. But we are nowhere near understanding the full variety of powerful information-processing principles ‘discovered’ by evolution. By attending closely to the (...)
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  70. Aaron Sloman, Blog.
    Here are some thoughts arising out of the fact that the University of Birmingham has recently gone through a re-branding exercise led by its administrators responsible for marketing, who failed miserably in marketing the exercise to staff and students within the University, as a result of which there is an online 'Save the Crest' petition that has attracted so many supporters that it made the national news The original version of this document referred to a web site at which the (...)
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  71. Aaron Sloman, Diversity of Developmental Trajectories in Natural and Artificial Intelligence.
    It may be of interest to see what can be done by giving a robot no innate knowledge about its environment or its sensors or effectors and only a totally general learning mechanism, such as reinforcement learning, or some information-reduction algorithm, to see what it can learn in various environments. However, it is clear that that is not how biological evolution designs animals, as McCarthy states.
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  72. Aaron Sloman, Evolution of Language and Creativity: Evolutionary Precursors to Communicative Language: Internal Languages.
    At the end of the seminar, I suggested that most researchers on language and its evolution (including Derek Bickerton I suspect, though I've only read snippets of his work), mistakenly ignore a host of other competences that are present in far more species.
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  73. Aaron Sloman, Examples of What Can Be Done with the Pop-11 RCLIB Package For 2-D Graphical Interfaces.
    RCLIB is a 2-D graphical interface package available as an addition to the Poplog software development system. "RC" stands for "Relative Coordinates": all the graphical commands are relative to a frame of reference, which can be changed without altering the commands, making it easy to draw the same thing in different parts of a display, using different sizes or orientations, and possibly stretched or sheared.
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  74. Aaron Sloman, Four Concepts of Freewill: Two of Them Incoherent.
    The discussion below could be extended by pointing out that there is a fifth notion of freedom which refers to what you are free to do within a context of a game, a system of laws, a moral regime etc. This notion of freedom is close to the notion of permission. It is worth noting that the law may forbid something without enforcing that proscription. So many people constantly do what they are not free to do in this sense.
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  75. Aaron Sloman, FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) FP7 CONSULTATION.
    The document starts The overall goal proposed here is to construct physically instantiated systems that can perceive, understand, and interact with their environment - but also evolve in order to achieve human-like performance in activities requiring context-specific knowledge. I posted the following comment on 15 Feb 2006..
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  76. Aaron Sloman, Graduation Speech, Sussex University (Expanded Version. See Section 3.) 21 July 2006.
    At the ceremony Ron Chrisley introduced me and my work with some kind words and ended with a reference to the claim on my website that I tend to upset vice chancellors and other superior beings. After Ron, I had to make a short speech. I had prepared a few bullet points to be projected on the screen to remind me of what I wanted to say, but for some reason they never appeared, so I talked from memory. I remembered (...)
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  77. Aaron Sloman, How to Put the Pieces of AI Together Again.
    Since the 1970s AI as a science has progressively fragmented into many activities that are very narrowly focused. It is not clear that work done within these fragments can be combined in the design of a human-like integrated system – long held as one of the goals of AI as science. A strategy is proposed for reintegrating AI based around a backward-chaining analysis to produce a roadmap with partially ordered milestones, based on detailed scenarios, that everyone can agree are worth (...)
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  78. Aaron Sloman, Is It Just Number of Users That Makes Windows PCs Vulnerable?
    It is often said that the only reason why so many mischief-makers or criminals develop viruses/worms/trojan-horses that attack PCs running Windows is that there are far more PCs running Windows accessible via the internet than any other operating system.
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  79. Aaron Sloman, Joined-Up Higher Education (a Letter to My Mp Lynne Jones).
    Maybe they have been made, but I missed them because I don’t read and listen enough, as most of my energies are focused elsewhere. Apologies if this is all old hat. Don’t feel you have to read on. In case others are interested, I shall put this on my web site at http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/˜axs/gov/ My main point is that it is just silly to talk so much about universities and top-up fees without putting universities in the context of a complete policy (...)
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  80. Aaron Sloman, Language, Architecture & Integration.
    • These ... have now been joined by ... dynamical systems theory which is being used to interpret brain dynamics on the one hand and language and cognition on the other.
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  81. Aaron Sloman, My Papers - and Other Things.
    I am populating this file from the bottom up. Later years are still empty. Try stuff in or before 1998 for a start. My Oxford DPhil Thesis (1962) is the oldest item available here.
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  82. Aaron Sloman, Message to Fellow Academics About to Publish.
    Note added 3 Nov 2009: Having received a number of email comments, I thought some future comments might as well be made public. If you would like to have a comment added here, please send it to me, and I'll consider adding it. Plain text or html only please -- no .doc files, pdf, etc.
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  83. Aaron Sloman, Orthogonal Recombinable Competences Acquired by Altricial Species.
    CONJECTURE: Alongside the innate physical sucking reflex for obtaining milk to be digested, decomposed and used all over the body for growth, repair, and energy, there is a genetically determined information-sucking reflex, which seeks out, sucks in, and decomposes information, which is later recombined in many ways, growing the information-processing architecture and many diverse recombinable competences.
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  84. Aaron Sloman, Polyflaps as a Domain for Perceiving, Acting and Learning in a 3-D World.
    Test domains for AI can have a deep impact on research. The polyflap domain is proposed for testing complex AI theories about architectures, mechanisms and forms of representation involved in features of human and animal intelligence that evolved to enable perception, action, and learning in diverse environments containing things that we can perceive and manipulate, and many complex processes involving objects that differ in shape, materials, causal properties, and relations to one another. We need a test environment that is rich (...)
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  85. Aaron Sloman, Physicalism and the Bogey of Determinism.
    This paper rehearses some relatively old arguments about how any coherent notion of free will is not only compatible with but depends on determinism. However the mind-brain identity theory is attacked on the grounds that what makes a physical event an intended action A is that the agent interprets the physical phenomena as doing A. The paper should have referred to the monograph Intention (1957) by Elizabeth Anscombe (summarised here by Jeff Speaks), which discusses in detail the fact that (...)
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  86. Aaron Sloman, Reflections on Kinds of Value.
    NOTE: Neither the University of Birmingham nor the School of Computer Science is responsible for any of the views expressed here. I am grateful to both for continuing support and access to facilities. All my work is subject to a creative commons licence and may be freely copied, quoted, or used for any purpose, without charge.
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  87. Aaron Sloman, Simplicity and Ontologies The Trade-Off Between Simplicity of Theories and Sophistication of Ontologies.
    Often, when people discuss the role of simplicity in science, they do not notice the trade-off between simplicity of ontology and simplicity of theory using an ontology. Einstein appears to have been emphasising simplicity of ontology (basic elements), though he might have included theory as well (basic axioms/assumptions).
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  88. Aaron Sloman, SimAgent Demonstration Movies.
    Some of the movies were produced using techniques and scripts suggested by Mike Lees at Nottingham University where he is using SimAgent on a project directed by Brian Logan.
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  89. Aaron Sloman, Spatial Prepositions as Higher Order Functions: And Implications of Grice's Theory for Evolution of Language.
    What evolved first: Languages for communicating, or languages for thinking (Generalised Languages: GLs)? (PDF) http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/talks/#glang Presented to Language and Cognition Seminar, School of Psychology, University of Birmingham. 19th Oct 2007..
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  90. Aaron Sloman, Some Thoughts About League Tables and Public Service Organisations.
    The implication is that the majority of universities (i.e. the ones lower in the tables) are inferior. A consequence of this is that whether such pronouncements are accurate or not they will influence decision-making in various quarters in such a way as to attract resources (through good student applications, good job applicants, funding allocations) towards a small subset of the organisations, thereby amplifying differences that already exist, or, in some cases introducing real differences in quality where previously the alleged differences (...)
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  91. Aaron Sloman, The Biological Bases of Mathematical Competences: A Challenge for AGI.
    Evolution produced many species whose members are pre-programmed with almost all the competences and knowledge they will ever need. Others appear to start with very little and learn what they need, but appearances can deceive. I conjecture that evolution produced powerful innate meta-knowledge about a class of environments containing 3- D structures and processes involving materials of many kinds. In humans and several other species these innate learning mechanisms seem initially to use exploration techniques to capture a variety of useful (...)
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  92. Aaron Sloman, The Design-Based Approach to the Study of Mind (in Humans, Other Aniamls, and Machines).
    When scientists discuss experimental observations, they often, unfortunately, use language that evolved for informal discourse among people engaged in every day social interaction, like this: What does the infant/child/adult/chimp/crow (etc) perceive/understand/learn/intend (etc)? What is he/she/it conscious of? What does he/she/it experience/enjoy/desire? What is he/she/it attending to? Similar comments can be made about the terminology used in many philosophical discussions about minds, cognition, language, and the relationships between evolution and learning.
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  93. Aaron Sloman, The iSoft Affair: Open Letter to My MP About Government IT Procurements (Originally Sent August 2006).
    Updates Open Letter to my MP: Lynne Jones Why large IT development projects are problematic The mathematics of searching for a design Richard Feynman wrote: Getting requirements right from the start is impossible Are problems unique to IT projects? Physical constraints Implications for Government policy What can be done? Some suggested prerequisites: requirements for openness A precedent for this proposal: The internet How the internet grew Implications for government policy (continued) Are some projects exceptions? Concluding Comment NOTE: Related comment..
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  94. Aaron Sloman, Two Kinds of Obesity: Physical and Mental.
    What most people seem not to have noticed is that there's another kind of obesity, a sort of 'mental obesity' which may be causing as much harm to the nation's health -- its mental and intellectual health.
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  95. Aaron Sloman, The Mythical Turing Test.
    I propose to consider the question, "Can machines think?" This should begin with definitions of the meaning of the terms "machine" and "think." The definitions might be framed so as to reflect so far as possible the normal use of the words, but this attitude is dangerous, If the meaning of the words "machine" and "think" are to be found by examining how they are commonly used it is difficult to escape the conclusion that the meaning and the answer to (...)
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  96. Aaron Sloman, Two Notions Contrasted: 'Logical Geography' and 'Logical Topography' Variations on a Theme by Gilbert Ryle: The Logical Topography of 'Logical Geography'.
    On re-reading Appendices III and IV of my Oxford DPhil thesis "Knowing and Understanding Relations between meaning and truth, meaning and necessary truth, meaning and synthetic necessary truth", (1962), online here, I found to my surprise that several of the topics discussed below had been discussed in those two Appendices, and that the distinction between logical topography and logical geography was made in Appendix IV, discussing conceptual analysis, even though I did not use these words.
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  97. Aaron Sloman, The Not So Super Virgin Media (Netgear) Superhub.
    THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM OR THE SCHOOL OF COMPUTER SCIENCE. NEITHER THE UNIVERSITY NOR THE SCHOOL HAS ENDORSED THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE.
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  98. Aaron Sloman, "The Self" -- A Bogus Concept.
    A PDF version (automatically generated) which may be slightly out of date is also available http://www.cs.bham.ac.uk/research/projects/cogaff/misc/the-self.pdf..
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  99. Aaron Sloman, VARIETIES OF ATHEISM What is Analytical Atheism?
    but I don't know of anyone who has documented the varieties of atheism. Unlike James I don't here attempt to collect data about what atheists say and do, and how they came by their atheism. This is, instead, an analytical paper describing how various sorts of atheistic position can arise in opposition to various sorts of theistic position. Clarity about this could help to make debates about atheism and theism more fruitful.
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  100. Aaron Sloman, Why Computing Education has Failed and How to Fix It.
    A related note on why European (and other) research plans will fail because of the lack of a suitable lower level education system Unjamming the education pipeline: Thoughts on educational prerequisites for an ambitious European research initiative.
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  101. Aaron Sloman, Why Scientists and Philosophers of Science Should Teach Intelligent Design (ID) Alongside the Theory of Evolution.
    This document explains, from the viewpoint of a philosopher/scientist atheist, why intelligent design should be taught alongside standard evolutionary theory. I have been very disappointed by things I have read by scientists recommending suppression of this topic, and even in one case arguing that the worst arguments in favour of ID should be collected together and refuted, which is a prescription for scientific dishonesty. An honest attack would present the best arguments, as cogently as possible, before exposing their flaws. (Something (...)
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  102. Aaron Sloman, Why Some Machines May Need Qualia and How They Can Have Them (Including a Demanding New Turing Test for Robot Philosophers.).
    Many debates about consciousness appear to be endless, in part because of conceptual confusions preventing clarity as to what the issues are and what does or does not count as evidence. This makes it hard to decide what should go into a machine if it is to be described as 'conscious'. Thus, triumphant demonstrations by some AI developers may be regarded by others as proving nothing of interest because the system does not satisfy *their* definitions or requirements specifications.
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  103. Aaron Sloman, Could a Child Robot Grow Up to Be a Mathematician and Philosopher?
    Some old problems going back to Immanuel Kant (and earlier) about the nature of mathematical knowledge can be addressed in a new way by asking what sorts of developmental changes in a human child make it possible for the child to become a mathematician.
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  104. Aaron Sloman, How an Animal or Robot with 3-D Manipulation Skills Experiences the World.
    We look at how the ability to experience grows as an architecture grows itself along with growing the ontology used to experience, understand and act in the environment.
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  105. Aaron Sloman, How to Select Research Proposals.
    Discussions on the UKCRC and CPHC email lists about research funding, including mention of the high proportion of research time and funding budgets that goes into writing and assessing proposals recently provoked me into reviving an idea that always seems to produce shock and horror, even though I think that (with suitable refinements) it could be an excellent way to fund research, namely, using a properly designed lottery.
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  106. Aaron Sloman, Misrepresenting Einstein's Views on Religion.
    There are many religious scientists who misrepresent or misquote Einstein in support of their claim that there is no conflict between science and religion, and who, deliberately or out of ignorance, fail to point out that what Einstein meant by 'religion' is totally different from what most people mean, and moreover that he regards the ordinary kinds of religion as possibly only for inferior minds and inferior cultures.
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  107. Aaron Sloman, Phd and Internship Enquiries.
    I get a steady stream of enquiries about internships and a growing stream of enquiries about the possibility of doing a PhD with me. I don't answer letters from people who say they have read my home page and really want to work with me and then reveal by what they write that they have NOT read my web page and know nothing about my work. I cannot take on internship students but..
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  108. Aaron Sloman, 'Political Correctness' and the Need to Criticise Religion.
    Adjust the width of your browser window to make the lines the length you prefer. This web site does not attempt to impose restrictions on line length or font size.
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  109. Aaron Sloman, Questions About Emotions.
    In December 2005 I was invited by a well known researcher, Carrol Izard, on emotions to contribute to a discussion by answering a few questions as briefly as possible. He asked for 'one-liners', but I was not able to comply with that condition. However, the answers were short for me!
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  110. Aaron Sloman, Reponse to Questions About Jeff Hawkins.
    and who has recently founded a company Numenta to develop 'a new type of computer memory system modeled after the human neocortex'. With science writer Sandra Blakeslee he wrote a book On Intelligence . I confess the book is still on my (very long) 'to be read' list, though I have read and heard quite a lot about it.
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  111. Aaron Sloman, Some Thoughts on Personal Security.
    Adjust the width of your browser window to make the lines the length you prefer. I do not presume to dictate line lengths for readers of what I write, as so many web site designers do (including the BBC). Feel free to adjust font size also.
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  112. Aaron Sloman, What Are Emotion Theories About?
    findings from affective neuroscience research. I shall focus mainly on (a), but in a manner which, I hope is..
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  113. A. Sloman, Damasio, Descartes, Alarms and Meta-Management.
    This paper discusses some of the requirements for the control architecture of an intelligent human-like agent with multiple independent dynamically changing motives in a dynamically changing only partly predictable world. The architecture proposed includes a combination of reactive, deliberative and meta-management mechanisms along with one or more global ``alarm'' systems. The engineering design requirements are discussed in relation our evolutionary history, evidence of brain function and recent theories of Damasio and others about the relationships between intelligence and emotions. (The paper (...)
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  114. Aaron Sloman, Supervenience and Implementation.
    How can a virtual machine X be implemented in a physical machine Y? We know the answer as far as compilers, editors, theorem-provers, operating systems are concerned, at least insofar as we know how to produce these implemented virtual machines, and no mysteries are involved. This paper is about extrapolating from that knowledge to the implementation of minds in brains. By linking the philosopher's concept of supervenience to the engineer's concept of implementation, we can illuminate both. In particular, by showing (...)
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  115. Aaron Sloman, The Evolution of What?
    There is now a huge amount of interest in consciousness among scientists as well as philosophers, yet there is so much confusion and ambiguity in the claims and counter-claims that it is hard to tell whether any progress is being made. This ``position paper'' suggests that we can make progress by temporarily putting to one side questions about what consciousness is or which animals or machines have it or how it evolved. Instead we should focus on questions about the sorts (...)
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  116. Aaron Sloman, The ``Semantics'' of Evolution: Trajectories and Trade-Offs in Design Space and Niche Space.
    This paper attempts to characterise a unifying overview of the practice of software engineers, AI designers, developers of evolutionary forms of computation, designers of adaptive systems, etc. The topic overlaps with theoretical biology, developmental psychology and perhaps some aspects of social theory. Just as much of theoretical computer science follows the lead of engineering intuitions and tries to formalise them, there are also some important emerging high level cross disciplinary ideas about natural information processing architectures and evolutionary mechanisms and that (...)
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  117. Aaron Sloman, What Sort of Architecture is Required for a Human-Like Agent?
    This paper is about how to give human-like powers to complete agents. For this the most important design choice concerns the overall architecture. Questions regarding detailed mechanisms, forms of representations, inference capabilities, knowledge etc. are best addressed in the context of a global architecture in which different design decisions need to be linked. Such a design would assemble various kinds of functionality into a complete coherent working system, in which there are many concurrent, partly independent, partly mutually supportive, partly potentially (...)
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  118. A. Sloman, Actual Possibilities.
    This is a philosophical `position paper', starting from the observation that we have an intuitive grasp of a family of related concepts of ``possibility'', ``causation'' and ``constraint'' which we often use in thinking about complex mechanisms, and perhaps also in perceptual processes, which according to Gibson are primarily concerned with detecting positive and negative affordances, such as support, obstruction, graspability, etc. We are able to talk about, think about, and perceive possibilities, such as possible shapes, possible pressures, possible motions, and (...)
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  119. Aaron Sloman, Toward a General Theory of Representations.
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  120. Aaron Sloman, What is It Like to Be a Rock?
    This paper aims to replace deep sounding unanswerable, time-wasting pseudo- questions which are often posed in the context of attacking some version of the strong AI thesis, with deep, discovery-driving, real questions about the nature and content of internal states of intelligent agents of various kinds. In particular the question.
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  121. A. Sloman, A Philosophical Encounter: An Interactive Presentation of Some of the Key Philosophical Problems in Ai and Ai Problems in Philosophy.
    This paper, along with the following paper by John McCarthy, introduces some of the topics to be discussed at the IJCAI95 event `A philosophical encounter: An interactive presentation of some of the key philosophical problems in AI and AI problems in philosophy.' Philosophy needs AI in order to make progress with many difficult questions about the nature of mind, and AI needs philosophy in order to help clarify goals, methods, and concepts and to help with several specific (...)
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  122. A. Sloman, L. Beaudouin & I. Wright, Computational Modelling of Motive-Management Processes.
    This is a 5 page summary with three diagrams of the main objectives and some work in progress at the University of Birmingham Cognition and Affect project. involving: Professor Glyn Humphreys (School of Psychology), and Luc Beaudoin, Chris Paterson, Tim Read, Edmund Shing, Ian Wright, Ahmed El-Shafei, and (from October 1994) Chris Complin (research students). The project is concerned with "global" design requirements for coping simultaneously with coexisting but possibly unrelated goals, desires, preferences, intentions, and other kinds of motivators, all (...)
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  123. Aaron Sloman & Monica Croucher, Why Robots Will Have Emotions.
    Emotions involve complex processes produced by interactions between motives, beliefs, percepts, etc. E.g. real or imagined fulfilment or violation of a motive, or triggering of a 'motive-generator', can disturb processes produced by other motives. To understand emotions, therefore, we need to understand motives and the types of processes they can produce. This leads to a study of the global architecture of a mind. Some constraints on the evolution of minds are disussed. Types of motives and the processes they generate are (...)
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  124. Aaron Sloman, Contents.
    When scientists attempt to explain observations of behaviour in humans and other animals, they often use language that evolved for informal discourse among people engaged in every day social interaction, like this: What does the infant/child/adult/chimp/crow (etc) perceive/understand/learn/intend (etc)? What is he/she/it conscious of? What does he/she/it experience/enjoy/desire? What is he/she/it attending to? Why did he/she/it do X, start <span class='Hi'>Xing</span>, stop <span class='Hi'>Xing</span>, speed up <span class='Hi'>Xing</span>... ? Does he/she/it know that ...? What did/does he/she/it expect will happen, if...? (...)
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  125. Aaron Sloman, Notes On Pride, Emotions, Architectures.
    This is a partial record of correspondence with an intelligent journalist who was given the task, some time in 1998, of preparing an article on pride, as part of a series of articles on so-called 'seven deadly sins' for a scientific magazine. The journalist first asked me to explain how pride could be accommodated withing the framework of ideas being developed in the Cognition and Affect Project at the University of Birmingham.
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  126. Aaron Sloman & David Vernon, A First Draft Analysis of Some Meta-Requirements for Cognitive Systems in Robots (An Exercise in Logical Topography Analysis. ).
    This is a contribution to construction of a research roadmap for future cognitive systems, including intelligent robots, in the context of the euCognition network, and UKCRC Grand Challenge 5: Architecture of Brain and Mind. -/- A meeting on the euCognition roadmap project was held at Munich Airport on 11th Jan 2007. This document was in part a response to discussions at that meeting. An explanation of why specifying requirements is a hard problem, and why it needs to be done, along (...)
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