Olivier Georgeon's research blog—also known as the story of little Ernest, the developmental agent.

Keywords: situated cognition, constructivist learning, intrinsic motivation, bottom-up self-programming, individuation, theory of enaction, developmental learning, artificial sense-making, biologically inspired cognitive architectures, agnostic agents (without ontological assumptions about the environment).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ernest 10.1 constructs a local map of his environment

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Ernest 10.1 associates co-occurring sensory stimulations together into bundles. A bundle is a set of sensory stimulations that denotes an object in the world. By constructing bundles, Ernest starts to perform multi-modal sensory integration.

We assume that a bundle can represent a unique kind of object in the world. We drew this assumption from David Hume's bundle theory of objects. This theory postulates that objects consist only of the set (bundle) of their observable properties.

Additionally, Ernest 10.1 constructs a local map of the bundles surrounding him. In this video, the local map is displayed in cell k6 (next to the cycle counter). The local map represents Ernest's awareness of his local surrounding. The top of the map corresponds to the front of Ernest. Ernest's current visual stimulation is represented as a "pie" over the map.

The local map is based on Ernest's somatotopic map. A bundle is learned by associating the tactile stimulation in front of Ernest (the center-top cell in the somatotopic map) with the simultaneous visual stimulation (the "pie"). As he moves, Ernest is then able to follow the newly-created (or recognized) bundle in the somatotopic map.

For example, Ernest creates a bundle for the yellow square on step 27. Then, on step 28, this bundle moves to the center of the map; on step 30, to the center-rear of the map; and, on step 31, to the left-rear corner of the map (the local map is displayed with a delay of one cycle).

When Ernest eats, he associates his gustatory stimulation with the bundle that represents where he is standing, that is, the "fish bundle" that was previously constructed from visual and tactile stimulations. This delicious taste associated with fish then makes Ernest's prefer pursuing fish rather than alga in subsequent activity.

Apart from his still-unexploited local map, and from the fact that his visual field was reduced to a single row of 12 pixels, Ernest 10.1 is the same as poor Ernest 9.3. We now need to investigate how Ernest would use his local map.

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