Embodied Cultural Agents at the Intersection of Robotics, Cognitive Science and Interactive Art

Simon Penny

This paper outlines the development over several years of Petit Mal, an autonomous robotic artwork, and discusses a new project arising from it. Central concerns are an holistic approach to the hardware/software duality, the construction of a seemingly sentient and social machine from minimal components, the generation of an agent interface utilising purely kinesthetic or somatosensory modes which ’speak the language of the body' and bypasses textual,verbal or iconic signs. General goals are exploration of the 'aesthetics of behavior', of the cultural dimensions of autonomous agents and of emergent sociality amongst agents, virtual and embodied. The research emerges from artistic practice and is therefore concerned with subtle and evocative modes of communication rather than pragmatic goal based functions. A notion of an ongoing conversation between system p and user is desired over a (pavlovian) stimulus and response model. The paper concludes with a description of the project Caucus, a group of Petit Mal-style robots which will generate sociality on-the-fly as a result of the exhange of linguistic tokens.

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