An important capacity that is still lacking in intelligent systems such as robots, is the ability to use concepts in a human-like manner. Indeed, the use of concepts has been recognised as being fundamental to a wide range of cognitive skills, including classification, reasoning and memory. Intricately intertwined with language, concepts are at the core of human cognition; but despite a large body or research, their functioning is as of yet not well understood. Nevertheless it remains clear that if intelligent systems are to achieve a level of cognition comparable to humans, they will have to posses the ability to deal with the fundamental role that concepts play in cognition. A promising manner in which conceptual knowledge can be acquired by an intelligent system is through ongoing, incremental development. In this view, a system is situated in the world and gradually acquires skills and knowledge through interaction with its social and physical environment. Important in this regard is the notion that cognition is embodied. As such, both the physical body and the environment shape the manner in which cognition, including the learning and use of concepts, operates. Through active partaking in the interaction, an intelligent system might influence its learning experience as to be more effective. This work presents experiments which illustrate how these notions of interaction and embodiment can influence the learning process of artificial systems. It shows how an artificial agent can benefit from interactive learning. Rather than passively absorbing knowledge, the system actively partakes in its learning experience, yielding improved learning. Next, the influence of embodiment on perception is further explored in a case study concerning colour perception, which results in an alternative explanation for the question of why human colour experience is very similar amongst individuals despite physiological differences. Finally experiments, in which an artificial agent is embodied in a novel robot that is tailored for human-robot interaction, illustrate how active strategies are also beneficial in an HRI setting in which the robot learns from a human teacher.

Document Type


Publication Date