Minds and Machines

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 101-115

First online:

Is There a Future for AI Without Representation?

  • Vincent C. MüllerAffiliated withAmerican College of Thessaloniki Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This paper investigates the prospects of Rodney Brooks’ proposal for AI without representation. It turns out that the supposedly characteristic features of “new AI” (embodiment, situatedness, absence of reasoning, and absence of representation) are all present in conventional systems: “New AI” is just like old AI. Brooks proposal boils down to the architectural rejection of central control in intelligent agents—Which, however, turns out to be crucial. Some of more recent cognitive science suggests that we might do well to dispose of the image of intelligent agents as central representation processors. If this paradigm shift is achieved, Brooks’ proposal for cognition without representation appears promising for full-blown intelligent agents—Though not for conscious agents.


AI Artificial intelligence Brooks Central control Computationalism Function Embodiment Grounding Representation Representationalism Subsumption architecture