EUCogII Members’ Conference Oct. 10/11 2009, Hamburg

Workshop Format

We plan for 3 workshops (A, B, C), which will be held in parallel during Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. The topic of each workshop will be introduced by a keynote speaker during the preceding plenary sessions. Workshops should provide a platform for informal discussions of special topics, and give the participants the opportunity for a very short presentation ('flash talk', max. 5 minutes).

Workshop A

„Cognition in Action - Grounding of Cognition in Sensorimotor Coordination“
Organizers: Andreas K. Engel and Alexander Maye
Respondent: Peter König

Everyday experience reveals that actions affect how our sensory systems get stimulated: We have to look somewhere in order to see something, we have to touch surfaces in order to feel an object, and we might have to move our head in order to hear something. But do actions also affect how we perceive the world, and, ultimately, our cognition? And if so, what about cognition in species with sensory and motor capabilities different from ours? Would artificial agents with the ability to learn some relations between actions and changes in sensory stimulations be cognitive?

While several theories consider actions as constitutive for cognition and consciousness, attempts to ground cognition in sensorimotor coordination for natural and artificial systems are scarce. This workshop is intended to connect researchers having different perspectives on the relation between action and perception, and to sparc off a transdisciplinary discussion of the topic. Prospective participants work in fields like, but not limited to, embodied or evolutionary robotics, neurobiology and models of sensorimotor coordination, enactive cognition, behavior, or theory of mind.

Workshop B

„General AI as a formal science“
Organizer: Vincent C. Müller
Respondent: Gregor Schöner (Bochum)

Formal sciences are based on theorems. The first 50 years of attempts at "General AI", however, have been dominated by heuristic approaches. Heuristics come and go. Theorems are for eternity.

Schmidhuber argues that while theoretical computer scientists have traditionally regarded AI with contempt for its lack of hard results, things have changed in recent years. The new millennium brought the first mathematically sound, asymptotically optimal, universal problem solvers embedded in unknown environments, offering a new, rigorous foundation for General AI, identifying the limits of both human and artificial intelligence, and providing a yardstick for any future approach to general cognitive systems. The field is indeed becoming a real formal science!

Workshop C

„The social interaction challenge for cognitive science“
Organizers: Vincent C. Müller & Toni Gomila
Respondent: Stephen Butterfill (Warwick)

Cognitive scientists tend to ignore or downplay the influences of social interaction on individual cognition except, perhaps, the shared knowledge that is needed for verbal communication.

The main purpose of human perception, action, and cognition is to support social interaction. Individual cognition is best understood as a device for enabling and controlling sophisticated bodily and mental coordination between individuals. The social is not a specific knowledge domain within individual minds, it is the key for understanding how individual minds work.

Workshop Outline
Social cognition constitutes a challenging area for Cognitive Robotics. More than half of the projects funded under 7th Framework Programme “Cognitive Systems, Interaction, Robotics” call, explicitly set goals related to social cognition, whether in terms of interaction among robotic agents, or human-machine interaction. Social cognition is the way we humans solve coordination problems, but it seems to involve different levels and mechanisms. Our speakers G. Knoblich (Birmingham) and Stephen Butterfill (Warwick) will present state-of-the-art psychological theories of how the different levels at which we deal with such problems, and how having to address social interaction affects the general architecture of the mind. The following workshop is intented to broaden the debate as to how this is relevant for cognitive systems in general, with a view to be able to formulate this challenge in a way that would allow a way to track progress. Short contributions are invited from EuCognition members to the workshop (for 10 m. presentation) on how to avoid/overcome problems with standard approaches, on how coordination problems could best be addressed, and on how to mesure advancement. Participation in an open debate will also be possible and encouraged. Abstracts of the proposed contribution should be sent to Antoni Gomila by early September (toni.gomila at

Further reading
Knoblich, G. & Sebanz, N. (2008) Evolving intentions for social interaction: from entrainment to joint action. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 363, 2021-2031.
Knoblich, G. & Sebanz, N. (2006) The social nature of perception and action. Curr. Dir. Psychol., Sci. 15, 99-104.