The workshop seminar "L'Homme Machine" (Dr. Fiorella Battaglia, Practical Philosophy/LMU, and Dr. Roland Poellinger, MCMP/LMU) will be an interdisciplinary event at the interface of philosophy, cognitive neuroscience, and humanoid robotics. It will take place at Venice International University from 16 to 20 September, 2013. Please find more info below – this page will be updated successively.

Attention, LMU students: Please note the info about registration and funding possibilities below!

Motivation and Idea

Reflecting on what is involved in the mind–body relationship has a long tradition in philosophy. The results of this effort have had strong influence on the development of cognitive neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence. Recently, however, thinkers criticizing overly metaphysical approaches have strengthened the view that questions about the mind–body nexus are reducible to well-posed scientific questions answerable with the help of neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence. Utilizing humanoid robotics for the investigation of human (social) cognition (e.g., distinguishing events, ordering cause and effect, or storing human features) constructively overturns the foundational claim of Artificial Intelligence – namely that, conversely, the study of human behavior will yield insights facilitating the creation of an intelligent artificial system. This methodological turn seems to bring along a new self-perception of cognitive scientists who state that “the construction of robots is philosophy-making” and of neuroscientists who aim at “understanding the brain by creating the brain”.

The seminar will systematically analyze related issues in (social) cognitive neuroscience and humanoid robotics in order to show the benefits of a new approach in philosophy that integrates new findings, methods, and means from the respective fields, without narrowing the focus so much that the initial explanandum – our human (self-)understanding – gets out of sight.

First Sight Video Teasers: 3 Questions on Humans and Robots

firstsight-thumbnailIsn't Philosophy about humans and their behaviour? You might ask: What's the connections to robots? We had 3 questions for Ronald Leenes and Kevin Warwick, who allowed us to record their answers as a motivational kick-off for the workshop seminar. Their statements are published on the First Sight video abstract server.

Ronald Leenes is Professor in Regulation by Technology at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society. Leenes is principal investigator and TILT project coordinator in the EU FP7 project "Robolaw" which looks at the ethical and legal issues of robotics, human enhancement, and neurosciences. Find his First Sight clip here.

Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, where he carries out research in artificial intelligence, control, robotics and biomedical engineering. Probably the most famous piece of research undertaken by Warwick is known as "Project Cyborg", in which he had a chip implanted into his arm and connected to his nervous system. Find his First Sight clip here.

Participation (Students and Researchers)

Interested students of LMU should sign up until 15 July, 2013, by sending an email to Roland Poellinger. Credits can be achieved by giving a presentation and submitting a written essay on one of the problems to be discussed during the seminar (a reading list will be published here in due course). If you are a student at LMU interested in earning credits at the seminar, please get in touch with us soon (best before 8 July = students' association committee session) about possibilities of applying for financial support.

If you are a student at a different university or a researcher doing research at the intersection of the seminar's topics, please get in touch with us about how to participate – we are interested in bringing along researchers from different fields with insight into special trends and current methods.

Topics and Reading

Access to the digital library upon request.

Possible topics include:

  • Robo and Information Ethics
  • Swarms, Crowds, Intelligence, and Reason
  • Systems and Mechanisms
  • (Social/Embodied) Cognition
  • Reality, Virtuality, Avatars
  • I and Self
  • Simulation, Representation, Games
  • The Computational Mind
  • (Limits of) Computability

Venue, Housing, Travel, and Further Practical Info

viu aerialA limited number of rooms will be available on the San Servolo campus. If you are interested in participating and getting a room on campus, please talk to us before 15 July. The approximate cost of travel (train from Munich) and housing (6 nights) will be around 480€ (not including meals).