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Embodiment, Computation and the Nature of Artificial Intelligence

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Rolf Pfeifer

University of Zurich's Rolf Pfeifer

Credit: UZH News

Although many artificial intelligence researchers have adopted the idea that true intelligence requires a body, known as embodiment, a growing group of researchers, led by the University of Zurich's Rolf Pfeifer, say the notion of intelligence makes no sense outside of the environment in which it operates.

Pfeifer and Zurich's Matej Hoffmann not only want to redefine artificial intelligence, they want to change the nature of computing itself.

The researchers recently published a paper outlining several case studies that examine the nature of embodiment in different physical systems, such as the distribution of light-sensing cells in a fly's eye. The fly's computation is the result of simple motion-detection circuitry in the brain, the morphology or distribution of cells in the body, and the nature of flight in a three-dimensional universe. The researchers say that this, and other low level cognitive functions, such as locomotion, are actually simple forms of computation involving the brain-body-environment triumvirate, which is why the definition of computation needs to be expanded to include the influence of environment.

From Technology Review 
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