Seminars 2005-2006

  Date  Speaker Topic
Jul 28 Nagarjuna G. From Folklore to Science
Aug 4 Nagarjuna G. Muscularity of Mind: Towards an Explanation of the Transition from Unconscious to Conscious
Aug 24 Nagarjuna G. Towards a Model of Life and Cognition
10 Oct Clément Vidal A Philosophical Approach to the Selfish Biocosm Hypothesis (*powerpoint) and *powerpoint about open commentary
21 Oct Helen De Cruz! Mathematical Symbols as Epistemic Actions (*paper)
24 Oct ECCO General meeting of ECCO members to discuss future strategies
27 Oct Marko Rodriguez A Multi-Graph to Support the Scholarly Process (*Powerpoint)
4 Nov Francis Heylighen Developing a Self-Organizing Knowledge Network for Complexity Science.
11 Nov   holiday
17 Nov Bertin Martens Extending the Evolutionary Epistemology Paradigm into Economics (*powerpoint)
25 Nov   no seminar
2 Dec Gustaaf Geeraerts & Mehmet Tezcan Modeling the complex adaptive system of governance in EU Foreign Policy
9 Dec ECCO general meeting
16 Dec Mixel Kiemen A network of bootstraps to ground language for higher-level agent cognition
23 Dec Nathalie Gontier Symbiogenesis as a Fundamental Evolutionary Principle
10 Mar
Mixel Kiemen
Drupal as a content-management system, and its possible application to support ECCO collaboration

 

Instructions for people preparing to present a seminar

Please send the abstract of your talk (about 200 words - 1 paragraph) at least 5 days before the lecture to Francis Heylighen, so that he can distribute it via our mailing list. This should include your affiliation, a link to your home page, and possibly 1-3 (web) references, where interested people can find more information about the topic of your talk. If you are not a member of ECCO we would also appreciate a short biography including your present affiliation and what you are working on. Below you'll find an example of a seminar announcement The seminar room has an in-built computer projector and screen, so you can easily show PowerPoint or other presentations from your laptop. If they wish, ECCO members can download a *PowerPoint template with the ECCO logo for their presentation.

If you don't have a laptop, send us your file, and we'll save it on another laptop and bring it to the seminar room. You can also use transparencies with the overhead projector, or simply write notes on the blackboard. You should prepare enough material for a one-hour talk, not more. With questions and discussions during and after the talk, this should result in a total seminar duration of about 2 hours.

After the seminar we would appreciate getting the outline or text of your presentation (PowerPoint, pdf, text or other format) to make available for downloading on this page. Even better would be if, taking into account the reactions you got at the seminar, you would elaborate your notes into a full paper, for our *14* archive. 

 

Abstracts and further information of the talks:

 


From Folklore to Science

  

by

<http://www.hbcse.tifr.res.in/Data/Objects/n/nagarjun/viewObject>Dr. Nagarjuna G.

(Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbay, India)

Abstract:

The focus of this work is on the metasystem transition from folklore to science, which happens only in the context of an institutionalized teaching/learning.  It is proposed that during the course of cognitive development knowledge becomes more and more explicit, and the process of explicitization is by reencoding representational redescriptions. I will argue that science is not an extension of folklore, but a metamorphosis of it.  Science describes procedural representations declaratively and declarative representations procedurally. Objectivity according to this view is procedural reproducibility of phenomena, and possibility of invariant operational descriptions. Scientific language is artificial (constructed) and trans-cultural. Science is non-inductive, counter-intuitive, and intrinsically difficult to learn for all cultures. It progresses only by means of social inheritance and dynamics.  This view is a reconciliation of constructivism and objectivism.  Implications of this view for science education will also be discussed. 

 

Muscularity of Mind:

Towards an Explanation of the Transition from Unconscious to Conscious

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), VUB campus Oefenplein

Time: Thursday, August 4, at 17:30 h.

 

Abstract:

It is argued in this essay that the problem of higher cognitive abilities including consciousness cannot be solved without establishing the physiological coupling that exists between nervous, sensory and muscular subsystems (modules) of a cognitive agent. Current scholarship neglected the role of the motor subsystem in higher cognition and therefore failed to solve the puzzle. The argument begins by making a crucial distinction between harder and softer motor operations, where the latter are produced by the voluntary muscles that are emancipated from the mandatory biological (hard-wired) operations.  Such operations form the basis of cognition by modulating the perceptual field generated by the input subsystems, contra encapsulated modules.  The root of consciousness is due to another layer of self generated operations, softer reflexive motor operations.  Modulation of modules help in creating cross-representations and differentiation of difference, which forms the basis for declarative knowledge, thus explaining the transition from unconscious procedural knowledge to conscious declarative knowledge.

More info:

full paper: http://cogprints.org/4352/.

and a related paper: http://db.hbcse.tifr.res.in/gn/finalReview.pdf

 

 

Towards a Model of Life and Cognition

 

by

 

Dr. Nagarjuna G.

(Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbay, India)

 

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), VUB campus Oefenplein

Time: Wednesday, August 24, at 17:30 h.

 

(note: this is not on the usual Friday!)

 

 

Abstract:

This is an attempt to formulate an alternative foundation to understand life, cognition and evolution of complex systems.  The presentation begins by constructing an ontology (a logically possible world that makes life and cognition possible) based on Becoming-Beings (interactions), not things.  It is proposed that relational invariance of internal interactions defines the identity of the Beings. This is followed by a general theory of interactions: All Beings interact with the environment (other Beings), and every interaction perturbs the Being. There are mainly two kinds of interactions: identity transforming (IT) and identity preserving (IP) interactions.  A Being is a product of counteracting (inverting) both identity preserving and identity transforming interactions.  A new kind of interaction called dialogical interactions and invertibility defines Living Beings, which are beings that are capable of displaying behavioral changes without undergoing change in identity. Dialogical invertibility is proposed as an explaination to the metasystem transition from matter to living matter.  Dialogical invertibility is also the basis of primitive cognition (procedural knowledge). Evolution of complex systems happens by increase in Being's ability to invert the IP and IT interactions.  The model also provides a criteria to compute complexity of Beings.

The model can accommodate regular physical and chemical (including quantum) reality by accommodation (not reduction) and therefore has the potential to be the foundation for a new science of complexity.

More info:

full paper: http://cogprints.org/4109/

About the speaker:

Dr. Nagarjuna G. works at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research as Fellow E.  He works in the area of Biological roots of cognition, Knowledge Organization, Metacognitive studies, History and Philosophy of Science, and is an advocate of Free Software for Education and Research.  Currently he is developing an expert system for knowledge management called "GNOWSYS: Gnowledge Networking and Organizing System" developed in Python and Zope.  He is the coordinator of the Centre's portal site development for science and mathematics education, which will be launched soon at http://www.gnowledge.org/ and http://www.gnoware.org /

 


 

A Philosophical Approach to the Selfish Biocosm Hypothesis

 

by

Clément Vidal

(<http://www.philosophons.com>philosophons.com & Université Paris 1-Sorbonne)

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Monday, October 10, at 17:30 h.

 

Abstract:

This seminar will propose a possible philosophical project for research within ECCO.  It is about a very large worldview, developed by James N. Gardner, linking in a deep way the universe, life and intelligence. Based on the strong anthropic principle, and Lee Smolin's reproducing universes, Gardner tackles big questions like: Why is our universe bio-friendly? What is the meaning of life and intelligence in the universe? What are the beginning and the end of the universe? I'll present the main points of Gardner's argumentation. A critical point of view will be adopted, and avenues of research to develop an evolutionary-systemic philosophy will be suggested.

In addition, I will shortly present another project about scientific communication. In the spirit of Marko Rodriguez's work on self-organization of scientific knowledge, it will be proposed that Open Commentary (OC), a proven very efficient way of scientific communication, could be extended to all scientific documents.

 

More info:

Gardner, J. N., (2003)  Biocosm. The new scientific theory of evolution: intelligent life is the architect of the universe. Inner Ocean Publishing. See <http://www.biocosm.org/>www.biocosm.org where the introduction is available.

Gardner, J. N. (2001) Assessing the Robustness of the Emergence of Intelligence: Testing the Selfish Biocosm Hypothesis. Acta Astronautica 48, no. 5-12, p951-955. Abstract : <http://www.setileague.org/iaaseti/abst2000/gardner.pdf>http://www.setileague.org/iaaseti/abst2000/gardner.pdf

Smolin, L. (1997) The life of the cosmos. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Vidal, C. (2005) Le commentaire ouvert. <http://clement.vidal.club.fr/temp/vidal2005.pdf>http://clement.vidal.club.fr/temp/vidal2005.pdf

 

About the speaker:

Clément Vidal has studied philosophy and logic at the Université Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne, where he wrote a thesis on the notion of infinity. He is now finishing an additional Master in Cognitive Science. He is webmaster of the site philosophons.com, which supports discussion and the writing of philosophy papers. In addition to the subject of the seminar, he is interested in the idea of the Internet evolving into a global brain.


Mathematical symbols as epistemic actions

 

by

Helen De Cruz

(CLWF, VUB)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Oct. 21, at 17:30 h.

 

Abstract

Why are mathematical models so surprisingly efficient in the sciences?  I adopt an externalist perspective on human mathematical abilities. Focusing on algebra, I will show that the human brain contains several specialized neural circuits which can be co-opted to generate cognitive capacities that are necessary to solve equations. However, algebra has emergent properties which cannot be reduced to these cognitive subsystems. In particular, experimental evidence suggests that our evolved number sense is only capable of representing approximate quantities. Active externalism, a cognitive mechanism proposed by various authors, including Andy Clark and Merlin Donald, allows humans to overcome these cognitive limitations by performing epistemic actions in the world that could not be performed in the mind alone. I discuss the extensive use of external symbols in the history of early modern European algebra, and demonstrate that this has led to an increasing efficiency of mathematics as epistemic tool in the sciences. This externalization of mathematical symbols can be traced back in the archaeological record to at least 20 000 years ago. Wider implications of externalist and evolutionary approaches to understanding mathematical cognition are discussed.

About the speaker

Helen De Cruz is a research assistant at the Free University of Brussels' Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science. She is currently preparing a Ph.D. thesis which investigates possible relationships between evolved mathematical abilities and cultural mathematical concepts. Her research interests include cognitive archaeology, cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. 

More information

A recent article by Helen De Cruz on the connection between evolved mathematical cognitive abilities and cultural transmission of mathematical concepts can be found at:

http://www.cogsci.rpi.edu/CSJarchive/Proceedings/2005/docs/p565.pdf

 


 

A Multi-Graph to Support Scholarly Communication

 

by

Marko Rodriguez

(ECCO, Los Alamos National Lab., & Univ. California at Santa Cruz))

 

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Oct. 28, at 17:30 h.

 

 

Abstract

The general purpose of the scholarly communication process is to provide the necessary infrastructure to support the creation and dissemination of ideas within the scientific community. At a finer granularity, there exists multiple stages which, when confronted by a member of the community, have different requirements and therefore different solutions. In order to take a researcher's idea from an initial inspiration to a community resource, the scholarly communication system must

1) provide a scientist initial seed ideas;

2) form a team of well suited collaborators;

3) locate the best venue to publish the formalized idea;

4) determine the most appropriate peers to review the manuscript; and

5) disseminate the end product to the most interested members of the community.

Through the various delineations of this problem-space, the solution-space remains tied solely to the multi-functional resources of the community: its researchers, its journals, and its manuscripts.  It is within the web of these resources and their inherent relationships that solutions to the problems of scholarly communication are to be found.  This seminar proposes an associative network composed of multiple scholarly artifacts as a medium for generating solutions for each stage of the scholarly communication process.

 

More info

full paper available at:

http://www.soe.ucsc.edu/~okram/papers/scholarly-network.pdf

 


 

Developing a Self-Organizing Knowledge Network for Complexity Science

 

by

<http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/HEYL.html>Francis Heylighen

(ECCO)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Nov. 4, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

Complexity science holds great promise in helping us to understand scientific and societal problems characterized by multiple, non-linear interactions and constant evolution. However, complexity science itself is a complex and ever changing amalgam of methods, models and metaphors from different traditions. To fully realize its potential, knowledge on complexity needs to be integrated, and made available in a comprehensive, complete and transparent framework. This seminar will introduce a project, to be submitted to the European NEST program on complexity by a consortium coordinated by ECCO, with partners in Italy, India, Poland and New Mexico. The project intends to build a distributed knowledge management system about complexity, in the form of a self-organizing, semantic network of concepts, resources and applications, that can be consulted and edited via the web. This network would include novel algorithms for context-dependent recommendation and visualization of relevant material, and the creation of new links and nodes based on usage. It can be viewed as a much more extensive and advanced version of the <http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/>Principia Cybernetica Web.

 

More info

first draft of the proposal available at:

http://pcp.vub.ac.be/ECCO/ECCO-papers/NESTproposal.pdf

 


 

Extending the Evolutionary Epistemology Paradigm into Economics

 

by

Dr. Bertin Martens

(European Commission & ECCO)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Thursday, Nov. 17, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

A weak interpretation of the Evolutionary Epistemology (EE) paradigm claims that both biological and cognitive evolution are subject to the same Darwinian selection mechanism. A stronger interpretation claims that all structures emerging in the evolutionary process, whether biological or not, are increasingly complex repositories of knowledge.  The purpose of this talk is to explore to what extent either version of the EE paradigm has found a foothold in social science in general and in economics in particular.  Branches of the weak interpretation have made some headway in economics but remain unconnected and partial explanations for economic development and the evolution of human societal structures and institutions.  I will examine whether the strong interpretation offers more scope by focusing on the role of the emergence of distributed knowledge in human societies and the role that economic systems (exchange of embodied knowledge) plays in this evolution.  I start from applications of the Entropy Law to the understanding of economic development and move towards an information/cognitive interpretation of this Law to explain the self-organising nature of economic systems and the evolutionary potential that it carries.

 

About the speaker

Bertin Martens is an economist who works since 1989 at the European Commission in Brussels on project design and evaluation, macro-economic modelling and implementation of structural reform programmes. He has combined his professional career with academic research, holding Visiting Fellow positions at the University of New South Wales, the Max Planck Institute for Research into Economic Systems, George Mason University, and Stanford University--where he worked for six months with the Nobel Prize winner Douglas North. He focuses on cognitive science approaches to economic development and institutional change. His PhD thesis on this topic has been <http://www.ebooksubscriptions.com/home/html/moreinfo.asp?etailerid=19&bookId=536908716> published as a book by Routledge in 2005.

 

More info

<http://scholar.google.com/scholar?as_q=Bertin+Martens&num=30&btnG=Search+Scholar&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_occt=any&as_sauthors=Martens&as_publication=&as_ylo=&as_yhi=&as_allsubj=all&hl=en&lr=&ie=ISO-8859-1&newwindow=1&safe=off> Publications by Bertin Martens in Google Scholar

 


 

 

The Transformed’ Foreign Policy Analysis meets Complexity Theory:

Modeling the complex adaptive system of governance in EU Foreign Policy

 

by

 

Prof. Dr.  <http://poli.vub.ac.be/view-e.phtml?id=10>Gustaaf Geeraerts & Mehmet Tezcan

(POLI & ECCO, VUB)

 

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Dec. 2, at 17:00 h.

 

 

Abstract

Since its emergence in Cold War decades, EU foreign policy (EU-FP) (and the more general European foreign policy (EFP)) has evolved into an unpredicted complexity, which is today conceptualized as more than intergovernmentalism, less than supranationalism. Consequently, the transformed’ Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA), since its reemergence in the post-Cold War era, has much contemplated the very nature of EFP in general, EU-FP in particular. Although having acknowledged EFP in general, EU-FP in particular as complex, adaptive, and systemic’ here and there, FPA has not yet developed a conceptual framework that recognizes and studies these issues as complex adaptive systems. Such a framework necessitates the meeting of FPA with complexity theory. Hence, our presentation introduces and applies the insights from complexity theory to the study of European (Union) foreign policy, proposing a first dynamics model of the interactions between the different actors.

 

 

About the speakers

Gustaaf Geeraerts is Professor of International Relations at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and has been Director of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at VUB since 1993. He is Honorary Professor at the University of Kent at Canterbury, and a Deputy Editor of Global Society: Journal of Interdisciplinary International Relations. His research interests centre around international relations theory and security in Europe and East Asia (particularly China). He is currently working on modelling of complex phenomena in international relations.

Mehmet Tezcan works as a research assistant with Prof. Geeraerts, preparing a PhD on the applications of complexity theory to the modelling of international relations. He recently presented the first results of this work at the Complexity, Science and Society conference in Liverpool.

 


 

A network of bootstraps to ground language for higher-level agent cognition

 

by

<http://www.mixel.be/>Mixel Kiemen

(ECCO)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Dec. 16, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

We introduce an evolutionary-cybernetic control model for agent cognition, using programming modelling to go from conceptual design to implementation. We show how primitive instructions can be integrated via a bootstrapping network into higher-level cognition. The basic cognitive module loops between the semantic meaning of input and the syntactic aspects of the associated memory. The loop performs a context-dependent focus evaluation. Three context-focus modules, perception, motivation and reasoning, together create the agent cognition. The interaction leads to actions and to a constructive learning behaviour, where the learning will define the syntax.

 

More info

Kiemen M. (2005): <http://www.mixel.be/pdf/emcsr2006.pdf>A triple loop model of agent cognition (ECCO working report 2005-09, submitted to EMCSR 2006)

 

About the speaker

Mixel Kiemen is a computer scientist with a MSc in Theoretical Informatics (2003) from the VUB. He has been responsible for developing the <http://www.brudisc.be/activities/pole3/crab/>Cartography of Research Actors project of DISC, the Brussels center for the knowledge society. His present research focuses on context-aware information technology for virtual communities, as part of the KNOSOS project.

 


 

Symbiogenesis as a Fundamental Evolutionary Principle

 

by

 Nathalie Gontier

(CLWF, VUB)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, Dec. 23, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

The serial endo-symbiogenetic theory of Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan explains the origin of the five kingdoms in biology. Contrary to Neo-Darwinian theory that explains evolution as a result of speciation, symbiogenesis is a principle that investigates how evolutionary lineages can merge. Universal selectionist accounts are currently being developed within evolutionary epistemology, and it will be argued that there is room for a universal symbiogenetic account as well, that, amongst other disciplines, can be put to use in language origin and evolution studies.

Outline of the presentation: First, a general account of symbiogenesis will be given; secondly, it will be discussed how this principle differs from natural selection, and finally, it will be investigated how we can universalize this principle.

 

About the speaker

Nathalie Gontier studied Philosophy at the VUB (2001), and Comparative Science of Culture (Anthropology) at the University of Ghent (2002). Currently she is a research assistant for the Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders, connected to the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science. She is preparing a PhD in Philosophy about the origin and evolution of language. Her main research interests are philosophy of biology and evolutionary epistemology as implemented in the origin of life and language. Together with Katrien Mondt she founded DITO, a think-tank on inter- and transdisciplinary language research.

 


 

Drupal as a content-management system,

 and its possible application to support ECCO collaboration

 

by

Mixel Kiemen

( ECCO, VUB)

 

Place: room 3C204 (building C, 3rd floor), <http://www.vub.ac.be/english/campEt.html>VUB campus Etterbeek

Time: Friday, March 10, at 17:00 h.

 

Abstract

In the last few years the internet has transformed from a information resource to a collaborative working environment. It started with wiki's and instant messaging, but now we see the rise of several other tools like folksonomy, blogs, podcasting, SNS (social networking systems), Voice over IP, etc. The need for CMS (content management systems) was just the next normal step. Several CMS exist, but now we start seeing the specializations. If you are looking for a CMS to support an online-community, Drupal would be your best choice. For the next one and a half years, I will be working on the http://www.knosos.be project which uses Drupal as basis.

In the seminar I will present some of the features and quickly switch to a workshop to discuss how we can use Drupal to support ECCO in becoming more of an online-community.

 

More info:

If you've got the time, you can sit back and relax while listening to some podcasts:

Why Drupal is good for communities: http://drupal.org/node/50477

A clear outline about online-communities  and sns: http://www.itconversations.com/shows/detail235.html