Photo of Steve Torrance

Steve Torrance
Associate Tutor
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T: +44 (0)1273 678853

Research

I work at the intersection between philosophy, consciousness science and cognitive science. My particular interests concern philosophical and ethical issues in psychology, consciousness, and artificial agency.

Specific research interests and current projects include:

Ethics and cognitive technology

I am interested in the relation between ‘infocentric’ approaches to ethics and bio- and ecocentric approaches.

I am also interested in the conceptual and ethical implications of artificial intelligence, and offshoot studies, including robotics, machine consciousness and machine ethics.

Consciousness and ethics – I have been investigating this from several angles, including:

Parallels between philosophical controversies about consciousness and controversies about ethics

The ethical significance of consciousness attributions

Relations between models of consciousness and of ethics in machines

‘Enactive’ approaches to the mind (with particular reference to the work of F. Varela and E. Thompson) – including:

Enactive approaches to consciousness

Interaction and intersubjectivity within the enactive framework

‘Participatory sense-making’ and ethics

The philosophy of Spinoza, in relation to ethics, consciousness and freedom

Undergraduate experience of learning and science; a longstanding interest arising from my teaching:

Student reflective logs of their learning experience (the ‘Laser’ project):

The impacts of science education on traditional religious and supernatural beliefs.

Some recent research activities

March 2010: I gave a plenary talk at the AISB 2010 annual conference, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.  ‘Artificial Ethical Intelligence:  Technical, Conceptual and Ethical Issues’.

2006 – 2010  I have participated in an annual workshop on First-Person Approaches to Consciousness, at the Ratna Ling retreat center, Cazadero CA (Visits were funded by the Center for Creative Inquiry, California, and (in 2006) by the British Academy.) 

September 2008:  I co-organized (with Ezequiel Di Paolo, Tom Froese and Hanne De Jaegher) a workshop on Enaction and Intersubjectivity, in Battle, Sussex, UK. Funded by the EUCog I  Initiative (European Science Foundation)

April 2008, April 2009:  Joint organizer (with M. Bishop and L. Floridi) of AISB Workshops on Philosophy and Computation. 

April 2008:  I gave a talk on Machine Ethics, at Towards a Science of Consciousness, Tucson, AZ  (Trip funded by the British Academy).

March 2008 .  Whitehead Lecturer, Goldsmiths College:  ‘Machine Ethics:  Fantasy or Necessity?’. 

Jan 2008. Invited speaker at meeting on Robot Ethics, Royal Society of Medicine, London: ‘Machine Ethics:  Fantasy or Necessity?’. 

Sept 2007:  2nd international conference on Enaction, Fréjus, S. France.  Keynote speaker  (Funded by CNRS)

November 2006:  Invited speaker at the Bioethics program, Yale University.  Also I was a speaker at a AAAI Fall Symposium on Machine Ethics, Arlington, VA. 

Oct. 2006: Invited speaker on Ethics and Artificial Agents, at meeting on Ethics of Human Interaction with Robotic, Bionic, and AI Systems, Naples. (Funded by EU)

September 2005:  Annual Conference of the BPS CEP Section, St. Anne’s College, Oxford. ‘The experience of autism: An Enactive approach’  (With H. De Jaegher)

June 2005:  Cheltenham Festival of Science.  Invited speaker at public meeting on ‘The Cyborg Experiment’.

June 2005:  Workshop chair: ‘Perception, Intersubjectivity and Development’, a one-day workshop held at Middlesex U. (Dept. of Mental Health, Archway Campus).  Co-organizer, Hanne De Jaegher.  Talk (with Hanne De Jaegher): ‘Enactive perception and the experience of autism’ (Funded by BPS).

2005, 2006:  Workshop co-chair (with R. Chrisley and R. Clowes) AISB workshops on Machine Consciousness U. of Herts (April 05); U. of Bristol (April 06)

September 2004.  Annual Conference of BPS CEP section.  St Anne’s College, Oxford. Talk: ‘What is an enactive science of mind?’

July 2004: SPP04-ESPP04, Barcelona. ‘Consciousness and Value.’

April 2004.  'Towards a Science of Consciousness'  Tucson (AZ),  Poster presentation.

March 2004:  Workshop chair: two-day symposium on ‘Enactive Perception’, U. of Sussex, Centre or Research in Cognitive Science. Keynote talk:  ‘In search of the enactive’  (Funded by BPS)

January 2004:  Café Scientifique, Brighton. Talk on Artificial Consciousness

Between 2004 and 2005 I received funding from the Psychology Research Group, Middlesex University to support research in Autism and the Enactive Mind.  

September 2003:  Invited speaker, workshop on Machine Models of Consciousness, Turin.  (Funded by EU.)

June 2003:  Programme Chair: 2003 Annual Conference of the BPS Consciousness and Experiential Psychology group: 'Enactive Consciousness: Perception, Intersubjectivity and Empathy', St Anne's College Oxford ; Talk:  ‘Spinoza and Enactive Consciousness’.  (Funded by BPS)

June 2003: Workshop chair: One-day workshop on ‘Sensorimotor Approaches to Perception’, held at Dept of Experimental Psychology, U. of Oxford. (Funded by BPS Research seminars competition)

March 2003:  ICAP 03.  International Conference on Computer Applications of Philosophy, Glasgow.  Invited plenary talk on Artificial Consciousness. (Funded by the conference.)

Mar 2003:  Public meeting for National Science Week, University College School, Hampstead.  Debate on Conscious Robots, with Igor Aleksander. 

In 2002 the Learning and Teaching Support Network (Psychology) supported research by myself, Mark Coulson and Stephen Nunn in to Reflective teaching methodologies for psychology students at Middlesex University.

August 2001.  'Towards a Science of Consciousness', Skovde (Sweden) Workshop paper.

June 2001:  Chair:  One-day workshop for practitioners caring for people with dementia: ‘Beyond Words: Non-verbal approaches to caring for people with dementia’, Holloway, London.  (Funded by Omega Foundation.)

June 2001.  Workshop on 'The Extended Mind: The Very Idea'. U. of Herts, Plenary paper.