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CFP: Imitation in Animals & Artifacts

Chrystopher Nehaniv c.l.nehaniv at herts.ac.uk
Fri Oct 23 01:35:55 EST 1998

Symposium on Imitation in Animals &

      at the AISB'99 Convention, 6th-9th April 1999 
         Edinburgh College of Art & Division of
          Informatics, University of Edinburgh 

                   Call for Papers 

Paper submissions are invited for the Symposium on Imitation in
Animals & Artifacts to be held at the AISB'99 Convention which
will be held in Edinburgh in April 1999. It will consist of 13
workshops and symposia on a wide range of themes in Artificial
Intelligence and Cognitive Science. An underlying theme of the
Convention this year is the study of creativity, though not all of the
events include a creative element. For further details of AISB'99
will be found at the conference web site, see

Imitation is one of the most important mechanisms whereby
knowledge is transferred between agents (biological, computational
or robotic autonomous systems). This symposium will focus on key
problems in this important interdisciplinary area. 

The topic of imitation has emerged in various areas close to AI
including cognitive and social sciences, developmental psychology,
animal behavior, robotics, programming by demonstration, machine
learning and user-interface design. 

The importance of imitation has grown increasingly apparent to
psychologists, ethologists, philosophers, linguists, cognitive
scientists, computer scientists, mathematicians, biologists,
anthropologists, and roboticists. Yet the workers in the field of
imitation are often unaware of relevant research by others in other
disciplines. The study of imitation has lacked a rigorous foundation
and no major interdisciplinary publication is available on the subject
for workers in AI. The symposium is aimed toward remedying this
situation and will comprise invited keynote lectures, peer-reviewed
contributed presentations, expert panels and general discussion in
the interdisciplinary area of imitation. This will be achieved by
bringing together established researchers from different areas and
producing a publication which can be used as a standard reference in
research and teaching for the AI community and others in this
exciting field. A rigorously refereed and edited volume including
invited and selected contributed papers will be published by a major
scientific publisher. 

The areas of interest of the Symposium on Imitation in Animals &
Artifacts will include, but are not limited to: 

    *  Trying to Imitate - solving the correspondence problem
        between differently embodied systems 
    *  Learning by Imitation - harnessing imitation as a means to
        bootstrap acquisition of knowledge & appropriate behaviors 
    *  Imitation in Animals (examples of imitation, theories,
        comparisons to mechanisms of social learning) 
    *  Imitation in Developmental Psychology, Language Games 
    *  Imitation in Play & Creativity 
    *  Memetics & Cultural Transmission 
    *  Origin of Signs 
    *  Social Intelligence (role of cognitive capacities, emotions,
        internal states, & behavioral competencies, understanding
        of self & others) 
    *  Mimicry & Deception 
    *  Robot Imitation (experiments, architectures, role of memory
        & prediction, learning sequences of actions) 
    *  Algebra & Dynamics of Imitation 
    *  Formalization of Imitation: 1) metrics on imitative behaviors
        as observed externally, 2) specification of the agent's
        internal/cognitive processes resulting in the observed
    *  Applications in Interactive Systems (CAI, User-Interface
        Design, Cognitive Technology, customization, mimetic agent
        technology, social intelligence, semiotic & linguistic
        Systems, automated software generation) 
   *   Neuroscience & Machine Approaches to Motion Perception
        and Imitative Actions 
   *   Imitition & Intent (relations to Cognitive Robotics, theory of
        other minds, empathy, 1st / 2nd person affective computing,
        deliberation vs. reactivity, situated planning & teamwork. 

Imitation is believed to be among the least common and most
complex forms of animal learning. It is found in highly social species
which show, from a human observer point of view, `intelligent'
behavior and traits supporting the evolution of traditions and culture.
There is strong evidence for imitation in certain primates (humans
and chimpanzees), cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and specific
birds like parrots. Recently, imitation has begun to be studied in
domains dealing with such non-natural agents as robots, and as a
tool for easing the programming of complex tasks or endowing
groups of robotic agents with the ability to share skills without the
intervention of a programmer. Imitation plays an important role in the
more general context of interaction and collaboration between
agents and humans, e.g. between software agents and human users.
Intelligent software agents need to get to know their users in order
to assist them and do productive work on behalf of humans.
Imitation is therefore a means of establishing a `social relationship'
and learning about the actions of the user, in order include them into
an agent's own behavioral repertoire. 

Imitation is on the one hand considered as an efficient mechanism of
social learning, and experiments in developmental psychology
suggest that infants use imitation to get to know others as persons,
perhaps by applying a `like-me' test: `persons are objects which I
can imitate and which imitate me'. On the other hand, imitation
methods as in programming by demonstration setups in robotics and
machine learning have primarily focused on the technological
dimensions, while disregarding the more social and developmental
functions. Additionally, the split between imitation research in
natural sciences and the sciences of the artificial has been difficult
to bridge, as we lack a common framework supporting an
interdisciplinary approach. Yet, studying imitation for an embodied
system inhabiting a non-trivial environment leads one to address all
major AI problems from a new perspective: perception-action
coupling, body-schemata, learning of sequences of action,
recognition and matching of movements, contextualization, reactive
and cognitive aspects of behavior, the development of sociality, or
the notion of `self', just to mention a few issues. 

Imitation involves at least two agents sharing a context, allowing
one agent to learn from the other. The exchange of skills, knowledge,
and experience between natural agents cannot be achieved by
brain-to-brain communication in the same way computers can
communicate via the Internet. It is mediated via bodies, the
environment, the verbal or non-verbal expression or body language
of the `sender', which in return has to be interpreted and integrated
in the `recipient's' own understanding and behavioral repertoire.
Moreover, as imitation games between babies and parents show, the
metaphor of `sender' and `receiver' is deceptive, since the game
emerges from the engagement of both agents in the interaction (cf.
notions of situated activity and interactive emergence). Thus,
learning by imitation and learning to imitate are not just a specific
topics in machine learning, but can be seen as a benchmark
challenges for successful real-world AI Systems. 

The symposium homepage is at

Papers will be selected by anonymous peer review of extended
abstracts of not more than 4 A4 pages. A cover page should be
supplied listing the Title, and the Author's name and affiliation, but
the extended abstract itself should not identify the author. Deadlines
are listed in the timetable, below. 

Programme Chairs: 

Kerstin Dautenhahn
Department of Cybernetics
University of Reading
Whiteknights, PO Box 225
Reading RG6 6AY 
United Kingdom 

k.dautenhahn at cyber.reading.ac.uk
fax: +44-118-931-6220 tel: +44-118-931-6372 

Chrystopher Nehaniv
Interactive Systems Engineering
Faculty of Engineering & Information Sciences
University of Hertfordshire
Hatfield Herts AL10 9AB
United Kingdom 

c.l.nehaniv at herts.ac.uk
fax: +44-1707-284-303 tel: +44-1707-284-470 

Programme Committee: 

       Aude Billard, Edinburgh, UK; 
       Cynthia Breazeal, MIT, USA; 
       Josep Call, Liverpool, UK; 
       Dolores Caamero, IIIA-CSIC, Spain; 
       Cristiano Castelfranchi, IP-CNR, Italy; 
       James P. Crutchfield, UC Berkeley & Santa Fe Institute, USA; 
       John Demiris, Edinburgh, UK; 
       Kerstin Dautenhahn, Reading, UK; 
       Joseph Goguen, UCSD, USA; 
       David Good, Cambridge Univ., UK; 
       Horst-Michael Gross, Ilmenau, Germany; 
       Gillian Hayes, Edinburgh, UK; 
       Mikael Heimann, Gothenburg, Sweden; 
       Cecilia Heyes, UCL, UK; 
       Takashi Ikegami, Tokyo, Japan; 
       Henry Lieberman, MIT, USA; 
       Martin Loomes, Hertfordshire, UK; 
       Yasuo Kuniyoshi, ETL, Japan; 
       Maja Mataric, USC, USA; 
       Donald Michie, Edinburgh, UK; 
       Chrystopher Nehaniv, Hertfordshire, UK; 
       Paolo Petta, FAI, Austria; 
       John Rhodes, UC Berkeley, USA; 
       Brian Scassellati, MIT, USA; 
       Nestor Schmajuk, Duke, USA; 
       Maarten Van Someren, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 
       Stefan Vogt, Lancaster, UK. 

Submissions should be sent to the Programme Chairs at the
following address:
Dr. K. Dautenhahn, Department of Cybernetics, University of
Reading, Whiteknights, PO Box 225, Reading RG6 6AY, United

The following formats are acceptable:  
  Four hardcopies (any A4 or US Letter format, max. 4 pp.) via post
   OR  Plain, ASCII text only electronic submission 
          to  k.dautenhahn at cyber.reading.ac.uk

Important Dates:

       Submission of Extended Abstracts    : 21 December '98
       Submission of camera-ready copy     : 12 March '99
       Notification re: Extended Abstracts : 20 January '99
       AISB'99 Convention                  : 6-9 April '99

The AISB'99 Convention is supported by Edinburgh College of Art
and the Division of Informatics, University of Edinburgh. 

Local organisers: 
Dr Geraint Wiggins & Dr Helen Pain, School of Artificial
Intelligence, Division of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, 80
South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1HN, Scotland
{geraint,helen}@dai.ed.ac.uk; Tel: +44-131-650 2702; Fax: +44-131-650

Please download  post the Call-for-Papers Flyer from

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