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An interpretation of the ‘self’ from the dynamical systems perspective: a constructivist approach

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This study attempts to describe the notion of the ‘self’ using dynamical systems language based on the results of our robot learning experiments. A neural network model consisting of multiple modules is proposed, in which the interactive dynamics between the bottom-up perception and the top-down prediction are investigated. Our experiments with a real mobile robot showed that the incremental learning of the robot switches spontaneously between steady and unsteady phases. In the steady phase, the top-down prediction for the bottom-up perception works well when coherence is achieved between the internal and the environmental dynamics. In the unsteady phase, conflicts arise between the bottom-up perception and the top-down prediction; the coherence is lost, and a chaotic attractor is observed in the internal neural dynamics. By investigating possible analogies between this result and the phenomenological literature on the ‘self', we draw the conclusions that (1) the structure of the ‘self’ corresponds to the ‘open dynamic structure’ which is characterized by co-existence of stability in terms of goal-directedness and instability caused by embodiment; (2) the open dynamic structure causes the system's spontaneous transition to the unsteady phase where the ‘self’ becomes aware.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sony Computer Science Laboratory Inc., 3-14-13 Higashi-gotanda, Tokyo, 141, JAPAN.

Publication date: 1998-05-01

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