Intention without representation

Philosophical Psychology 17 (2):209-223 (2004)
Abstract
A mechanism for planning ahead would appear to be essential to any creature with more than insect level intelligence. In this paper it is shown how planning, using full means-ends analysis, can be had while avoiding the so called symbol grounding problem. The key role of knowledge representation in intelligence has been acknowledged since at least the enlightenment, but the advent of the computer has made it possible to explore the limits of alternate schemes, and to explore the nature of our everyday understanding of the world around us. In particular, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics has forced a close examination, by people other than philosophers, of what it means to say for instance that "snow is white." One interpretation of the "new AI" is that it is questioning the need for representation altogether. Brooks and others have shown how a range of intelligent behaviors can be had without representation, and this paper goes one step further showing how intending to do things can be achieved without symbolic representation. The paper gives a concrete example of a mechanism in terms of robots that play soccer. It describes a belief, desire and intention (BDI) architecture that plans in terms of activities. The result is a situated agent that plans to do things with no more ontological commitment than the reactive systems Brooks described in his seminal paper, "Intelligence without Representation."
Keywords Artificial Intelligence  Intention  Metaphysics  Representation  Symbol
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