Prerequisites for an Artificial Self


The project is part of our SPP 2134 "The Active Self"

Researchers commonly identify two main phenomena as characterising a minimal Self in humans: the sense of body ownership - "I feel corporal sensations as uniquely belonging to my own body" - and the sense of agency - "I feel being in control of my own actions." In this project, we will investigate the principles and prerequisites for the development of a minimal self from a developmental robotics perspective. We will study the computational processes that are necessary for multimodal sensorimotor predictions and adaptations to changing conditions during development. We thus directly address key question one (plasticity of the self) and key question five (mechanisms and prerequisites for a robotic self) of the Priority Programme “The Active Self”, but also touch on aspects of the other key questions (e.g. on the roles of body ownership and agency). First, we will identify prerequisites and methods to provide basic skills for self-experience to artificial systems - such as the capability of the robot to detect its own body and to distinguish between self-generated movements and those generated by other individuals. We will investigate multi-modal (e.g. proprioceptive, tactile, visual and auditory) body representations and predictive capabilities - within a predictive coding framework - and their role in own-body perception. We will also investigate whether multi-modal self-perception increases cognitive abilities, for example self-other distinction skills. Secondly, we will investigate the adaptation of these processes while the artificial agent is undergoing sensorimotor experience and growing corporal conditions. In particular, simulation experiments will be carried out, where humanoid robots will be characterised by evolving morphological conditions that simulate growth and bodily changes in biological systems. Experiments on a real robot will be carried out as well with changing morphological conditions. Addressing these questions will advance the state of the art in cognitive skills in robotics, in particular in situations with changing and unknown conditions such as in human-robot interaction. Finally, we will evaluate our models under two scenarios. We will study how predictive capabilities develop over time along the ontogenetic process of the artificial agent. Prediction performance will be used as an indicator for detecting developmental steps in the emergence of the Self, and matches with the timeline depicted by developmental psychology will be sought. Moreover, we will test our models under conditions simulating disturbances in the sensorimotor predictive system. In particular, we will investigate whether these disturbances produce comparable effects in our robots with those exhibited by schizophrenic patients. We will reach these goals by designing robotic experiments that can test such hypotheses on the development of the minimal self.

Principal Investigators
Hafner, Verena Prof. Dr. (Details) (Adaptive Systems)

Duration of Project
Start date: 02/2019
End date: 01/2022

Research Areas
Computer Science, Interactive and Intelligent Systems, Image and Language Processing, Computer Graphics and Visualisation

Last updated on 2021-21-01 at 11:15