The University of Sussex

Can development be designed? What we may learn from the Cog Project

Julie C. Rutkowska

Neither 'design' nor 'evolutionary' approaches to building behavior-based robots feature a role for development in the genesis of behavioral organization. However, the new Cog Project aims to build a humanoid robot that will display behavioral abilities observed in human infants; and proposes making use of ideas from evolution and developmental psychology in its design. This paper offers a provisional evaluation of this work from a developmental perspective, to show how developmental study may offer not only a source of phenomena for modelling but also a method that contributes to our understanding of how self-organization works. The design methodology that underlies Cog confronts problems with selection and interpretation of component behaviors, and how these may be better understood through appropriate developmental study is illustrated. Principles that underlie the design of Cog are shown to exhibit interesting convergences with infant mechanisms, based on the significance of emergent functionality and the action- as opposed to representation-based nature of both initial and outcome mechanisms. However, analysis of infants yields a more constructive view of ability, associated with different assumptions about the subject's relationship with the environment.

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