Re: Embodiment

From: Michael Wilson (
Date: Mon Oct 17 2005 - 13:09:07 MDT

Chris Capel wrote:
> It's a position, though perhaps not an assumption, held by SIAI; and
> as far as the views and research of the SIAI are one of the main
> topics of this list, and this list is owned by a founding member of
> that organization, the assumption can be said to be widespread within
> the context of this list. But it's most certainly not widespread among
> AI researchers as a whole, with yourself as a good example case.

This issue is a complicated one; you can't divide the positions various
people take into a dichotomy or even a single linear spectrum. Sticking
to the physical details, some people think hardware is essential, some
people think VR is ok as long as low-level sensing is simulated, some
people think it's ok to bypass some low-level visual processing but
not higher level stuff, some take the position that as long as spatial
modelling is done it's ok to feed in abstract geometric objects with
property tags, some think that ((red ball) at (3, 2)) is an acceptable
form of sensory input as long as there is an interactive environment
simulation separate from the AI itself, and finally there are people
trying to develop truly 'disembodied' AI that crunches data in abstract.

There is debate about the criticality of human interaction, the
importance of natural language and the usefulness of AI-AI interaction.
I would advocate discussing the issue at a more abstract level, talking
about the qualities present in the AI's input and output streams, the
structure of the challenges it is presented with (including the
structure of simulated environments), and the complexity of the input
and output processing subsystems (e.g. whether they are linear
fixed-function pipelines, or something more bidirectional and mutable).

I'm not going to launch into another debate about embodiment, but I'd
like to point out that the above subtleties would need to be
considered and understood before you could reasonably describe the
positions most of the researchers here would take on the issue.

 * Michael Wilson

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