Leaky Levels and the Case for Proper Embodiment

In G. Etzelmüller & C. Tewes (eds.), Embodiment in Evolution and Culture. Tübingen, Germany: pp. 17-30 (2016)
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In this chapter I present the thesis of Proper Embodiment: the claim that (at least some of) the details of our physiology matter to cognition and consciousness in a fundamental way. This thesis is composed of two sub-claims: (1) if we are to design, build, or evolve artificial systems that are cognitive in the way that we are, these systems will have to be internally embodied, and (2) the exploitation of the particular internal embodiment that allows systems to evolve solutions with greatly decreased computational complexity – and thus to be flexible and adaptive in the ways that are characteristic of cognitive systems – means that the orthodox distinction between algorithm and implementation is undermined. Evolved cognitive systems are therefore likely not to instantiate the distinction between phenomenology, algorithm, and implementation. The leaky levels evident in evolved cognitive systems motivate an extension of orthodox embodied cognitive science to the internal, affective, “gooey” realm that has so far only been embraced by those in the enactive tradition. This suggests that if we are to build artificial systems that will be genuinely cognitive they will have to incorporate parts of the gooey realm currently considered to be “mere implementation.”
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