update (after a minor absence from the blog)

It is so sad that I have been too busy working to update my blog. Sad because keeping the notebook updated helps me stay focus on the bigger picture. Here’s a brief update on what I have been up to.

I have been mostly working on what I think will be the 5th and last experimental chapter of my thesis, a subset of which I am planning to submit to the upcoming ECAL conference with deadline a couple of weeks away (9th of April). The work is on the evolution, and more importantly for me the analysis, of an agent that can learn to associate food with temperature in a 2D environment during its lifetime, while overcoming the difficulties encountered by previous work (Yamauchi, Beer, Tuci, Blynel, Floreano, Phattanarasri, and Chrisantha). I’m particularly interested in attempting to understand the agent’s learning behavior in the language of animal learning theory (is the agent doing classical or instrumental conditioning?), as well as the ‘memory trace’ in the internal dynamics.

Fortunately, I have managed to succesfully evolve small circuits for the task (much smaller than all previous attempts in the literature) even though many aspects of the tasks are more complex: they have to be able to remember for several re-tests and be able to re-learn different environments during their lifetime. The smallness of the circuit (4 nodes) has encouraged its in-depth dynamical systems analysis (as opposed to the typical statistical measures, correlation and ablation studies).

I’m still hard at work analysing the agent and writing it up, but I will have a draft to share with whoever wants to read it fairly soon.

I have also been collaborating with Nathaniel and Tom (colleagues from the CCNR) on a review paper on the notion of autonomy in the cognitive sciences for the same conference. There is a lot of material already there, it’s a matter mostly of narrowing it down and making it as concise as possible. We have been meeting on and off for the last 3 months, that has been really useful and interesting. I would definitely like to engage in more collaborations of that sort.

I’m also getting my presentation ready for the IEEE conference in Hawaii, and that’s even closer! I leave on the 3oth of this month. Still need to work on it a lot more.

Will be sending our first call for papers for the workshop that Eldan and I are organising in Portugal next week. It’s very exciting. I think there is a lot of space for really interesting discussions, new directions and collaborations to take place from that workshop.

There are a couple of other things, also important and interesting, which I won’t go into now. Laters.

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