Representations in Dynamical Embodied Agents: Re-Analyzing a Minimally Cognitive Model Agent
Version of Record online: 14 MAR 2012
Copyright © 2012 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 36, Issue 5, pages 870–895, July 2012
How to Cite
Mirolli, M. (2012), Representations in Dynamical Embodied Agents: Re-Analyzing a Minimally Cognitive Model Agent. Cognitive Science, 36: 870–895. doi: 10.1111/j.1551-6709.2012.01233.x
- Issue online: 3 JUL 2012
- Version of Record online: 14 MAR 2012
- Received 18 January 2010; received in revised form 20 June 2011; accepted 20 June 2011
- Embodied cognition;
- Dynamical systems;
- Minimally cognitive behavior;
Understanding the role of ‘‘representations’’ in cognitive science is a fundamental problem facing the emerging framework of embodied, situated, dynamical cognition. To make progress, I follow the approach proposed by an influential representational skeptic, Randall Beer: building artificial agents capable of minimally cognitive behaviors and assessing whether their internal states can be considered to involve representations. Hence, I operationalize the concept of representing as ‘‘standing in,’’ and I look for representations in embodied agents involved in simple categorization tasks. In a first experiment, no representation can be found, but the relevance of the task is undermined by the fact that agents with no internal states can reach high performance. A simple modification makes the task more “representationally hungry,” and in this case, agents’ internal states are found to qualify as representations. I conclude by discussing the benefits of reconciling the embodied-dynamical approach with the notion of representation.