Robots: Emerging Communication

Posted 25 Sep 2009 at 08:15 UTC (updated 25 Sep 2009 at 11:04 UTC) by mwaibel Share This

The latest episode of the Robots podcast takes a closer look at the emergence of communication - and how it can be studied using robots. The first part features an interview with Sara Mitri, an interdisciplinary researcher at Switzerland's EPFL and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Mitri and colleagues have taken an unusual approach to the problem: Using the ground-based S-Bot robots (pictured above) as a model for biological organisms, they used artificial evolution to study complex behaviors like communication. And as the broad media coverage of her recent publications in Current Biology and PNAS show, the advantages of this approach have not gone unnoticed: While retaining many of the real-world complexities present in biological systems, the robotic models allow complete access to all model parameters. And there is another key advantage: Today very little is known about the evolution of phenomena like communication, because they leave no trace in the fossil record. By conducting artificial evolution, this work allowed to reconstruct part of that missing evolutionary history and shed light on the origins of communication in all animals, from simple cells to us humans. In the second part of the podcast, J├╝rgen Jost, director of the "Complex Structures in Biology and Cognition" group at Leipzig's Max Planck Institute discusses the question of intentionality of robot communication. Tune in!

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