Abstract: Infants exploit the perception that others are ‘like me’ to bootstrap social cognition (Meltzoff, 2007a). This paper demonstrates how the above theory can be instantiated in a social robot that uses itself as a model to recognize structural similarities with other robots; this thereby enables the student to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate teachers. This is accomplished by the student robot first performing self-discovery, a phase in which it uses actuation–perception relationships to infer its own structure. Second, the student models a candidate teacher using a vision-based active learning approach to create an approximate physical simulation of the teacher. Third, the student determines that the teacher is structurally similar (but not necessarily visually similar) to itself if it can find a neural controller that allows its self model (created in the first phase) to reproduce the perceived motion of the teacher model (created in the second phase). Fourth, the student uses the neural controller (created in the third phase) to move, resulting in imitation of the teacher. Results with a physical student robot and two physical robot teachers demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach. The generalizability of the proposed model allows it to be used over variations in the demonstrator: The student robot would still be able to imitate teachers of different sizes and at different distances from itself, as well as different positions in its field of view, because change in the interrelations of the teacher’s body parts are used for imitation, rather than absolute geometric properties.
**May not be in order
[edit database entry]
Bongard's work focuses on understanding the general nature of cognition, regardless of whether it is found in humans, animals or robots. This unique approach focuses on the role that morphology and evolution plays in cognition. Addressing these questions has taken him into the fields of biology, psychology, engineering and computer science.
Danforth is an applied mathematician interested in modeling a variety of physical, biological, and social phenomenon. He has applied principles of chaos theory to improve weather forecasts as a member of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and developed a real-time remote sensor of global happiness using messages from Twitter: the Hedonometer. Danforth co-runs the Computational Story Lab with Peter Dodds, and helps run UVM's reading group on complexity.
Laurent studies the interaction of structure and dynamics. His research involves network theory, statistical physics and nonlinear dynamics along with their applications in epidemiology, ecology, biology, and sociology. Recent projects include comparing complex networks of different nature, the coevolution of human behavior and infectious diseases, understanding the role of forest shape in determining stability of tropical forests, as well as the impact of echo chambers in political discussions.
Hines' work broadly focuses on finding ways to make electric energy more reliable, more affordable, with less environmental impact. Particular topics of interest include understanding the mechanisms by which small problems in the power grid become large blackouts, identifying and mitigating the stresses caused by large amounts of electric vehicle charging, and quantifying the impact of high penetrations of wind/solar on electricity systems.
Bagrow's interests include: Complex Networks (community detection, social modeling and human dynamics, statistical phenomena, graph similarity and isomorphism), Statistical Physics (non-equilibrium methods, phase transitions, percolation, interacting particle systems, spin glasses), and Optimization(glassy techniques such as simulated/quantum annealing, (non-gradient) minimization of noisy objective functions).