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Minds and Machines

, Volume 15, Issue 3–4, pp 335–358 | Cite as

Machine Experiments and Theoretical Modelling: from Cybernetic Methodology to Neuro-Robotics

Article

Abstract

Cybernetics promoted machine-supported investigations of adaptive sensorimotor behaviours observed in biological systems. This methodological approach receives renewed attention in contemporary robotics, cognitive ethology, and the cognitive neurosciences. Its distinctive features concern machine experiments, and their role in testing behavioural models and explanations flowing from them. Cybernetic explanations of behavioural events, regularities, and capacities rely on multiply realizable mechanism schemata, and strike a sensible balance between causal and unifying constraints. The multiple realizability of cybernetic mechanism schemata paves the way to principled comparisons between biological systems and machines. Various methodological issues involved in the transition from mechanism schemata to their machine instantiations are addressed here, by reference to a simple sensorimotor coordination task. These concern the proper treatment of ceteris paribus clauses in experimental settings, the significance of running experiments with correct but incomplete machine instantiations of mechanism schemata, and the advantage of operating with real machines ??? as opposed to simulated ones ??? immersed in real environments.

Keywords

ceteris paribus cybernetics machine experiments material models mechanisms robotics explanation of adaptive behaviour 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze FisicheUniversit?? di Napoli Federico II, Complesso Universitario Monte S. AngeloNapoliItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di FilosofiaUniversit?? di PisaPisaItaly

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