The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 226, Issue 2, pp 243–268 | Cite as

Synthetic cognitive development

Where intelligence comes from
  • D. Weinbaum (Weaver)Email author
  • V. VeitasEmail author
Regular Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Information in Physics and Beyond


The human cognitive system is a remarkable exemplar of a general intelligent system whose competence is not confined to a specific problem domain. Evidently, general cognitive competences are a product of a prolonged and complex process of cognitive development. Therefore, the process of cognitive development is a primary key to understanding the emergence of intelligent behavior. This paper develops the theoretical foundations for a model that generalizes the process of cognitive development. The model aims to provide a realistic scheme for the synthesis of scalable cognitive systems with an open-ended range of capabilities. Major concepts and theories of human cognitive development are introduced and briefly explored, focusing on the enactive approach to cognition and the concept of sense-making. The initial scheme of human cognitive development is then generalized by introducing the philosophy of individuation and the abstract mechanism of transduction. The theory of individuation provides the ground for the necessary paradigmatic shift from cognitive systems as given products to cognitive development as a formative process of self-organization. Next, the conceptual model is specified as a scalable scheme of networks of agents. The mechanisms of individuation are formulated in context-independent information theoretical terms. Finally, the paper discusses two concrete aspects of the generative model – mechanisms of transduction and value modulating systems. These are topics of further research towards an implementable architecture.


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences and Springer 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Global Brain Institute, Vrije Universiteit Brussels (VUB), Krijgskundestraat 33BrusselsBelgium

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