Representation and Reality in Humans, Other Living Organisms and Intelligent Machines


This book project is based on several years of collaboration between two editors, starting with the organization of the symposium Computing Nature at the AISB/IACAP World Congress in 2012 in Birmingham. It continued with the AISB50 Convention at Goldsmiths, London in 2014 and the symposium Representation: Humans, Animals and Machines organized in cooperation with Veronica Arriola-Rios, University of Birmingham. During preparation, the book project was presented at the symposium Representation and Reality at UNILOG 2015, World Congress on Universal Logic in Istanbul. All those events, as well as our networks with research communities of cognitive scientists, computer scientists, philosophers, logicians, AI researchers, roboticists and natural scientists, connect us with the authors of the present volume, offering views on the topic of representation and its connections to reality in humans, other living organisms and machines. The choice of the title was made so as to refer to historical attempts at making connections, with Wiener’s “Cybernetics: Or Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine” (Wiener 1948), and Putnam’s human-centric “Representation and Reality” (Putnam 1988). How to address this vast topic and connect representation and reality in humans, other living beings and machines, based on the best contemporary knowledge? We invited prominent researchers with different perspectives and deep insights into the various facets of the relationship between reality and representation in those three classes of agents. How can we find a common link between reality-constructing agents like us humans with language ability and social structures that define our agency, other living organisms, from bacteria to plants and animals communicating and processing information in a variety of ways, with machines, physical and virtual? We have taken a cognitive, computational, natural sciences, philosophical, logical and machine perspective. Of course, no perspective is simple and pure, but rather a fractal structure in which recurrent mirroring of other perspectives at different scales and in different senses occurs. So in a contribution characterized predominantly as “cognitive perspective” there are elements of natural sciences, logic, philosophy and so on. Our aim is to provide a multifaceted view of the topic of representation and reality in the range of approaches from disciplinary


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