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Satellite meeting organised by Professor Nicky Clayton FRS, Dr Alex Thornton and Dr Uri Grodzinski
Empirical research into animal cognition is growing rapidly, but lacks a sound theoretical framework. How can we empirically distinguish different cognitive mechanisms, and assess their complexity? How does cognition evolve? This workshop will provide a unique forum for discussion between eminent evolutionary, cognitive and computational theorists and empirical researchers, paving the way for a robust, theoretically-grounded science of comparative cognition.
This event followed a broader Discussion meeting Animal minds: from computation to evolution 16 – 17 January 2012.
Biographies of the organisers and speakers are available below. Audio recordings are freely available and the programme can be downloaded here.
Professor Nicky Clayton FRSOrganiser
Dr Alex Thornton Organiser
Dr Uri GrodzinskiOrganiser
Professor Daniel Dennett, Tufts University, USAOpening Address: reflections on comparative cognition
Daniel C. Dennett, the author of Breaking the Spell (Viking, 2006), Freedom Evolves (Viking Penguin, 2003) and Darwin's Dangerous Idea (Simon &Schuster, 1995), is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He lives with his wife in North Andover, Massachusetts, and has a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren. He was born in Boston in 1942, the son of a historian by the same name, and received his B.A. in philosophy from Harvard in 1963. He then went to Oxford to work with Gilbert Ryle, under whose supervision he completed the D.Phil. in philosophy in 1965. He taught at U.C. Irvine from 1965 to 1971, when he moved to Tufts, where he has taught ever since, aside from periods visiting at Harvard, Pittsburgh, Oxford, the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the London School of Economics and the American University of Beirut.
His first book, Content and Consciousness, appeared in 1969, followed by Brainstorms (1978), Elbow Room (1984), The Intentional Stance (1987), Consciousness Explained (1991), Darwin's Dangerous Idea (1995), Kinds of Minds (1996), and Brainchildren: A Collection of Essays 1984-1996 (MIT Press and Penguin, 1998). Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness, was published in 2005 by MIT Press. He co-edited The Mind's I with Douglas Hofstadter in 1981. He is the author of over three hundred scholarly articles on various aspects on the mind, published in journals ranging from Artificial Intelligence and Behavioral and Brain Sciences to Poetics Today and the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
He gave the John Locke Lectures at Oxford in 1983, the Gavin David Young Lectures at Adelaide, Australia, in 1985, and the Tanner Lecture at Michigan in 1986, among many others. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Science. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987.
He was the Co-founder (in 1985) and Co-director of the Curricular Software Studio at Tufts, and has helped to design museum exhibits on computers for the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Science in Boston, and the Computer Museum in Boston.
Professor John McNamara, University of Bristol, UKEcological rationality and environmental complexity
After a BA in Mathematics (Oxford) and an MSc in Astronomy (Sussex) I returned to Oxford for my D Phil (topic: the stability properties of black hole models, supervisor: R. Penrose, FRS). I moved to Bristol University in 1979, where I am now Professor of Mathematics and Biology in the Department of Mathematics.
After my doctorate I changed my field of mathematics to probability theory and became interested in applying ideas from this area to behavioural and evolutionary biology. This has been the main area of my research activity for the last 30 years. I study animal ‘behaviour’ in its widest interpretation, including activities such as growth, reproduction and energy allocation. I typically seek adaptive explanations of behaviour, provide theoretical explanations of known phenomena and attempt to motivate and steer the direction of new empirical research.
Current interests include the annual routines of organisms, evolutionary game theory and the evolution of psychological mechanisms. Work on this last topic is motivated by the idea that behavioural ecologists have built complex models of behaviour in simple environments – models that have emphasised ‘small world’ optimality, whereas we need to consider the evolution of simple psychological mechanisms that perform well in complex environments.
18 Jan Morning Discussion 1
18 Jan Morning Discussion 2
Professor Derek Penn, UCLA, USANonhuman animals aren't people: how folk psychology has ruined comparative psychology and what we should do about it
He is primarily interested in understanding what nonhuman minds can teach us about human ones and in developing a coherent theoretical underpinning for talking about biological cognition. Professionally, Derek spent the early part of his career on the trading floors of various Wall Street firms and the later part in Silicon Valley as an investor and software entrepreneur. Derek is currently in the midst of launching his third startup, this time in music.
18 Jan Afternoon Discussion
Professor Aaron Sloman, University of Birmingham, UKLife, information and evolution of information-processing
19 Jan Morning Discussion 1
Professor Rineke Verbrugge, University of Groningen, NetherlandsComputational cognitive models for social cognition
In 1988, Rineke Verbrugge received her MSc, followed by a PhD in 1993, both in Logic and Foundations of Mathematics, at the University of Amsterdam.
Subsequently, she was postdoc at the University of Prague, the University of Gothenburg, and Visiting Assistant Professor at MIT, Cambridge (MA).
Since 1997, she has worked at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence of the University of Groningen, where she is now full professor, holding the chair of Logic and Cognition, and leading the research group Multi-agent Systems.
Rineke Verbrugge has published a large number of research papers and some books, most recently "Teamwork in Multi-Agent Systems: A Formal Approach" (Wiley 2010) written together with Barbara Dunin-Keplicz and "Discourses on Social Software", co-edited with Jan van Eijck (Amsterdam University Press 2009). She is Associate editor of the Journal of Logic, Language and Information and chair of the Netherlands Organization for Logic.
In 2008, Rineke Verbrugge was awarded an NWO Vici grant for the project "Cognitive systems in interaction: logical and computational models of higher-order social cognition". In 2009, she was awarded the Educator of the Year Award of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Groningen.
19 Jan Afternoon Discussion
Café Scientifique 20 May
Industry networking event 21 May
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