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Model-based Self-Awareness for Autonomy
Written by Ricardo Sanz   
Friday, 17 October 2008

An ASLab Research Seminar

Model-based Self-Awareness for Autonomy

Engineering Functional Self-Management

Carlos Hernández

Place: Aula Artigas, ETSII-UPM
Time: October 21, 2011 / 12:30-13:30

For systems to operate autonomously, their controllers have to cope with pervasive uncertainty: events in the dynamics of the plant that were unknown at design time. Classical control techniques work well when there are quantitative models of this uncertainty that can be used at design time. But we are now demanding control systems to operate with increasing qualitative uncertainty. Biological cognitive processes have provided useful inspiration to design controllers for that, although techniques are typically very dependent on the domain.

Notwithstanding, this comes at the cost of increasing the complexity of the controller: it is usually implemented as a set of components interacting to realise a set of functions designed at engineering time to address the objectives of the system. Unexpected events in the dynamics of the control system itself are thus a real threat for its success. These deviations from the expected behaviour of the controller may be due to signals arising in the plant, but their origin can also be a malfunction in the control system itself. Different methodologies have been proposed to address this problem (adaptative control, fault-tolerant control, autonomic computing), but they still do not provide a general solution to the problem. Therefore, engineers still play a role managing control systems when the unexpected occurs, redesigning on the fly the control system or the plant to cope with that.

Efficiency and autonomy demand moving this responsibility to the control system itself, making it fully autonomous. We have turned again towards the biological for inspiration, to find that consciousness, or self-awareness, can be related to the management of the cognitive processes taking place in our minds (the controllers for our bodies). It involves introspection and second-order representations, associated to the modelling, not only of the external world, but of the mental processes as well. Self-awareness could then work as an operative system supporting the cognitive processes, orchestrating their operation to make it more efficient and adaptive.

We propose an approach to engineer some of these capabilities by designing a control system that exploits a functional model of itself at runtime, so it can perform self-reconfiguration and hence cope with not pre-specified deviations from its objectives, independently of its origin (fault in the controller, unexpected in the environment...), as long as the necessary functions are available for implementation.

Find more about Carlos Hernández.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 October 2011 )
Arturo's MThesis: Higgs reconfigures!
Written by Carlos Hernandez   
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Last September 16 Arturo Bajuelos succesfully defended his MS Thesis at UPM: Improving Robustness in Robotic Navigation by Using a Self-Reconfigurable Control System.

Arturo's work is the first result of the ASys technology for online reconfiguration in the robotic control testbed.

More details in the following links:


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 September 2011 )
ReteCog 2011 - The Architectures of Mind
Written by Ricardo Sanz   
Tuesday, 09 September 2008 is a research network funded by the Spanish government to foster the cooperation between researchers in the multidiscplinary domains of the cognitive sciences. As part of their activities the network organises focused workshops around hot topics in cognitive science.

The ReteCog 2011 Workshop is a small-sized network workshop centered around the major topic of cognitive architecture. The ASLab team presents two contributions there:

  • The place of the Body in the Architecture of the Mind by Carlos Herrera.
  • Review of an Anathema: The Unified Theory of Cognition by Jaime Gómez.

More information can be found in the ReteCog 2011 Workshop Website.

Last Updated ( Monday, 11 July 2011 )
Machine Consciousness 2011: Self, Integration and Explanation
Written by Ricardo Sanz   
Thursday, 17 March 2011
The workshop Machine Consciousness 2011: Self, Integration and Explanation is a symposium to be held in conjunction with the Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour 2011 (AISB 2011). This event will take place on April 4-7, 2011 at the University of York, UK.

From the conference website:

"Machine Consciousness (MC) concerns itself with the creation of artefacts which have, or model, mental characteristics typically associated with consciousness such as (self-) awareness, emotion, affect, phenomenal states, imagination, etc."

"Machine Consciousness 2011 will host contributions that are based on actual or potentially implemented models, either in the sense that they detail actual or potential artefacts or that they seriously engage with previous published work or models, either by critiquing or extending that work. We favour new work - even if preliminary - over work which has received multiple publication elsewhere."

For more information on MC2011, please consult the MC2011 Website.

ASLab people (RS,CH,GS) will participate with a half-engineering half-philosophy contribution titled: Consciousness, Meaning and the Future Phenomenology.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 May 2011 )
Ten Design Rules for a Conscious System
Written by Ricardo Sanz   
Tuesday, 08 February 2011
The quest for the universal controller technology -a technology for building machine minds for any purpose- has advanced by small, both practical and theoretical steps but without a clear convergence into a unified view. However, recent developments in search of improvements in open-environment robustness have produced a reactivation of the quest for the very essence of the mental -from a systemic/cybernetic perspective. This talk will present an architecture-centric proposal for a fundamental control structure that fulfills a basic set of requirements for being an explanation of a functional mind (including associated concepts such as percepts, knowledge, thinking, action, etc.). This structure is grounded on systemic, embedded control systems concepts so as to be realizable in machines. This proposal goes from the elementary aspects of sensing and perception to the higher aspects of knowledge, meaning and consciousness. The proposed design rules will provide a basic stance for understanding access consciousness and self-consciousness and a catalog of design features needed for the engineering of a conscious system of technological and economical value.

Series: COGS Research Seminars
Place:University of Sussex
Date: 15 Feb 2011
Speaker: Ricardo Sanz

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 February 2011 )
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