Robotics: Philosophy of Mind using a Screwdriver

The design of autonomous robots has an intimate relationship with the study of autonomous animals and humans – robots provide a convenient puppet show for illustrating current myths about cognition. Like it or not, any approach to the design of autonomous robots is underpinned by some philosophical position in the designer. Whereas a philosophical position normally has to survive in debate, in a project of building situated robots ones philosophical position
affects design decisions and is then tested in the real world - “doing philosophy of mind with a screwdriver”. Traditional Good Old Fashioned Artificial Intelligence (GOFAI) approaches have been based on what is commonly called a Cartesian split between body and mind – though the division goes back at least to Plato. The Dynamical Systems approach to cognition and to robot design draws on other philosophical paradigms. We shall discuss how such varied philosophers as Heidegger Merleau-Ponty or Wittgenstein, in the improbable event of them wanting to build robots, might be tempted to set about the task.

I. Harvey (2000): Robotics: Philosophy of Mind using a Screwdriver. In Evolutionary Robotics: From Intelligent Robots to Artificial Life, Vol. III, T. Gomi (ed), AAI Books, Ontario, Canada, 2000. pp. 207-230. ISBN 0-9698872-3-X.

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