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    Cambridge Cybernetic Society
    3rd Meeting

    "To Grow An Ear"
    Sensory Evolution in Artificial Devices

    Speaker: Peter Cariani, Research Associate
    Eaton Peabody Laboratory
    Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

    Wednesday 13 December 95
    @Cybersmith in Harvard Square
    42 Church Street, Cambridge MA
    4 - 5 pm
    Information about Cybersmith: 617-492-5857

    Dr. Cariani will present the general problem of linking artificial devices to their environments via sensors and effectors, and how sensing and effecting operations differ from pure computation. He will outline how artificial devices can adaptively construct their own sensors in order to better perform classifications. As an example, he will describe an electrochemical device that was built in the 1950's by Gordon Pask which evolved de novo the ability to detect and discriminate sounds (hence the title of the talk). He will discuss how such devices could act as adaptive "front-ends" for trainable classifiers that would automatically find primitive features appropriate for a particular real-world classification task.

    Issues that arise include:

    • How is a robot qualitatively different from a computer?
    • How can we get real-world semantics into artificial devices?
    • What are the general capabilities and limitations of trainable machines, such as neural nets?
    • How can qualitatively new functions emerge in artificial devices?
    • What does it take to make a device "epistemically autonomous"?

    The speaker, Peter Cariani, did his doctoral work with theoretical biologist Howard Pattee on problems of functional emergence in organisms and devices. He is currently a Research Associate at the Eaton Peabody Laboratory of Auditory Physiology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, where he is investigating temporal pattern codes for pitch and speech in the brain.

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