From Actions to Goals and Vice-Versa: Theoretical Analysis and Models of the Ideomotor Principle and TOTE

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How can goals be represented in natural and artificial systems? How can they be learned? How can they trigger actions? This paper describes, analyses and compares two of the most influential models of goal-oriented behavior: the ideomotor principle (IMP), which was introduced in the psychological literature, and the “test, operate, test, exit” model (TOTE), proposed in the field of cybernetics. This analysis indicates that the IMP and the TOTE highlight complementary aspects of goal-orientedness. In order to illustrate this point, the paper reviews three computational architectures that implement various aspects of the IMP and the TOTE, discusses their main peculiarities and limitations, and suggests how some of their features can be translated into specific mechanisms in order to implement them in artificial intelligent systems.