Implications of Embodiment for Autonomous Personality Agents

Authors: Stefan Rank & Paolo Petta
Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence
Date: 2006-09-24

Presented at Humaine 3rd Summer School, Genova (see also the Humaine website) • 2006-09-24.

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Hello my name is Stefan Rank. The title of my talk is ... I want to talk about the theoretic notion of embodiment and its connection to emotion. About the issues that are directly relevant for autonomous personality agents.

Main Message

Embodiment as design principle:

thumbsup    No grounding problem

thumbsdown    How to decouple?

Decoupling allows adaptation

Emotion bridges the gap

no problem of grounding, The problem of providing for mechanisms that are not directly coupled interaction with the environment appears Emotion supplements decoupled processes with subjective interpretation

WP7 Element 3

Autonomous Personality Agents

ECA     phone agent     browser agent     robot

→ Coordination of influences from outside and inside

APA: takes different forms, distinguishing qualities: autonomy, establish and maintain: implies coordination outside inside, full agent personality, which implies (among others) emotional phenomena

Autonomous Personality Agents  

ECA     phone agent     browser agent     robot

→ Need a “full” model of emotional life [R.Cowie 2006]

"emotional life" see Roddy Cowie

[Cowie2006] Cross-currents meeting

Emotional Life

Emotions - Attitudes - Feelings - Mood - ...

Human Emotion [Scherer et al. 2004; and 5 hours ago]
A relatively brief episode of coordinated brain, autonomic, and behavioural changes that facilitate a response to an external or internal event of significance for the organism

→ Modelling emotion

Mention Tanja's comment to Roddy. Emotional phenomena, Scherer: Coordinated episodes, attitudes, feelings, mood. Most important: subjective meaning, disambiguation, interpretation


Grounding vs. Coupling

Symbolic designs
Start from uniform representation scheme → Grounding?
symbolic agent agent lacking body symbol agent symbol grounding symbol interface
Example EMA: plan structures provide attention and semantics

movement A → B

Starting from a reflective design: characteristics: uniform representation Problem: grounding

Runs independent

Interpretation only Possible at the symbolic level (example movement: three alternatives, also just movement)

Change in perspective for an embodied approach.

Embodied Approach

Grounding is not an issue

embodied agent embodied agent running loci of control
  • No gap: functionalities + coupling
  • Always running, no central locus of control
Embodied approach: grounding is a given there is no gap further establishes the following premises


→ Segregate decoupled processes and enduring structures

→ How do Coupled and Decoupled interact?

Mention Ruth Aylett

BUT this entails problems when accounting for offline cognition, counterfactual reasoning trying to solve opposite problem of grounding: decoupling = creating the gap several ideas are proposed:

Emotion again

coming full circle back to emotion emotion as configuring coupled behaviour with specific attention filters and supplementing information from an embodied level with ascribed meaning on higher levels when decoupled Relevant distinctions: first- and second-order experience, e.g. reporting about emotion world- and self-focused attention, e.g. Virtual Emotions = absence of appraisals of reality and imminence (components of situational meaning structures)

Marcel and Lambie (second order)

Take-Home Message

Embodiment as design principle:

thumbsup    No grounding problem

thumbsdown    How to decouple?

Decoupling allows adaptation

Emotion bridges the gap

no problem of grounding, The problem of providing for mechanisms that are not directly coupled interaction with the environment appears Emotion supplements decoupled processes with subjective interpretation

WP7 Element 3

The End

Thank you for your attention!


The following slides contain anticipated questions (AQ).

AQ: not yet

Speaker's notes

a Situated/Embodied/Dynamic perspective on cognition from F. Almeida e Costa and L.M. Rocha [2005]. Artificial Life. Vol. 11, Issues 1-2 (special issue on Embodied and Situated Cognition), pp.5-11 - Winter-Spring 2005. see (I would have used Dynamic**al**)

central notion in the research programme of cognitive science [Clark1997] [Nunez1999] [Anderson2003].

interpreted in very different ways (e.g. [MartinETAL2005]), often a rejection of GOFAI [Brooks1991]: classical: problem-solving in which the goal, as well as the problem description and the produced solution, are represented in a human-interpretable code

views of embodiment in cognition [Wilson2002]

environments in which fast decisions and “unreflected” perception-action capabilities are needed [Arkin1998], i.e., tight sensorimotor coordination, a term going back to [Dewey1896], see also [PfeiferScheier1994]

providing a body - simple, Ziemke's criteria (excl. organismal); only a small view, grounding problem: physiology, task-specific structures; if not directly then indirectly (off-line); how do capabilities develop, what needs to be learned; still missing are issues of the relation to the environment, situatedness (sub- or super-term?): being-in rather than thinking about, cognition inherently involves interaction with the environment with problems and benefits, environment constrains, but it also provides, the importance of a cognisers location in and relations to its environment. for Brooks separate idea; lifeworld: functionally meaningful patterns: how and how strongly coupled, what can be off-loaded, other high-level interactivity (e.g. turn-taking). time-pressure of the environment and boundedness of the agent create the problems of dynamics and relevance. timely responses, the intricacies of dynamic interaction may influence cognition, and resource boundedness entails the need for relevance detection. last but not least: the agent is situated in a social and cultural context that needs to be maintained and helps as a scaffold (social lifeworld), all of these apply to cognitive science

providing a body:
the most simple interpretation. Ziemke's criteria: physical realisation is easy, coherence and persistence, then organismoid (shares body characteristics with living organisms, e.g. humanoid robots, ECAs to some degree), and finally organismal = autopoietic = living (leaving this out because of next slide)

This is of course only a small part of what the term embodied conveys: The problem of grounding (or providing real-world meaning) groups further related issues.

physiology of a body shapes and constrains cognition. Structures (possibly called representations) are normally action-oriented and task-specific. And if they are not, they still employ the same mechanisms. They are reused for off-line cognition (where offline cognition means an active decoupling from the environment).

situated: in the presence of task-relevant inputs and outputs [Wilson2002], being-in rather than thinking about (Grush), the importance of a cognizers location in and relations to its environment; agent is constrained by the world, but can use the world! (for Brooks separate from the embodiment idea, but it's not only "the world is its own best model" as he though then.)

an agent's lifeworld [AgreHorswill1997], physical environment and the embedding of its body in it, but also the patterned ways in which a physical environment is functionally meaningful within some activity. (social situatedness: role and place in a society?) include the social lifeworld of an agent that needs to be continually reenacted [RankPetta2005]

most are motivated by a cogsci perspective.

related: Is emotion adaptive? in what sense?

About intention reconsideration, see papers by Schut and Wooldridge.

“higher-level” capabilities such as counterfactual reasoning and long-term planning

resources (time, attention, effort), arbitration between different concerns

coordinate influences arising from the environment and those stemming from the agent itself

the role of bodily information in emotion. [Frijda2005] details reasons why bodily information is central for all emotion experience, but also that other components such as affective valence are needed to complement this information.

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