Through The Eye of The Robot: Synthetic Phenomenology

Screenshot 2019-09-02 at 08.41.54

In July of 2007 (!), Joel Parthemore and I exhibited an installation as part of the Whittingham Riddell Shrewsbury Open Art Exhibition.  The theme that year was: “Batteries Not Included: Mind as Machine?”.  Joel and I made a video document of our installation, which has collected digital dust on. virtual bookshelf — until now.  You can view the video at:

https://tinyurl.com/synthetic-phenomenology-2.

You can see the exhibition catalogue at:

http://users.sussex.ac.uk/~ronc/shrewsbury_open_2007.pdf.

One of the takeaways from the exhibition that, for me, still lingers, is the introduction of a phenomenon that I refer to as “exterospection”.  We were displaying on a large screen enactive specifications of the visual experiences that a robot was modelling.  But since the screen was an object in the robot’s visual environment, it came to “have” (model) visual experiences of those specifications.  So like introspection, it could (in theory!) examine its experiences and learn more about them.  But unlike introspection, it would do so not by “looking within” using an “inner glance”, but by exteroception of a particular external thing in a particular way:  exterospection.  This is not the same as an “autocerebroscope”, or looking at one’s own fMRI scan, since images of brain states are not (yet?) in themselves specifications of the contents of experience.

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