Research

  • Artificial mentality, especially artificial intelligence, artificial emotion and artificial consciousness ("machine consciousness")
  • Non-conceptual representation and experience (e.g., animal and infant cognition)
  • Philosophy of computation
  • Philosophy of mind
A significant strand in Ron's research focuses on non-conceptual content: ways of representing the world that are less objective than we usually think adult human cognition is. For example, he is interested in how animals and robots navigate through and represent space, as well as how infants represent their environment before they have the concept of object. On the philosophical side of things, this interest compels him to look for a means of talking precisely about these pre-objective representations. On the scientific side of things, he is looking to develop an appropriate computational architecture for psychological theories of pre-objective representation. There are several reasons to believe that connectionist architectures are more suited to non-conceptual analyses than are classical architectures. In the past he has developed a connectionist architecture that permits an autonomous robot to build cognitive maps of its environment. He has also investigated how this architecture might also be used as a model of both the both systematic and non-systematic aspects of human visual object representation. Ron has several other research interests, including the philosophy of computation (What is computation? Under what conditions can we say that a physical system implements a computation? To what extent must we make reference to the environment of a computational system when characterizing/explaining it?), problems in the theory of representation/content (the disjunction problem, critiques of teleosemantics, etc.), and conceptual issues surrounding the problems of consciousness.