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Technologists are often naïve when appropriating themselves of topics that have been studied for ages in other disciplines. Knowledge is an important case in point. The rational of this initiative is to renew ties between the different disciplines that are studying knowledge, the phenomena of knowing (especially beyond the 'declarative' kind of knowledge) and related issues (e.g., learning, context, knowledge transfer, knowledge as a social construct,…) from various perspectives (e.g., neural, behavioural, social, epistemological). This is an initiative for exploring the interdisciplinary fundamentals of knowledge, knowing, doing and being, tightly linked to the conception of future knowledge technologies.

What are we looking for?
•    What should be the orientation of research on this topic? As stated, do you feel it is too broad or, on the contrary, too narrow?
•    Have any recent scientific results been obtained relevant to this topic? Is there already a well-established community on this?
•    Do you know of related initiatives, for instance at national level, or in other continents?
•    What is needed at this point to advance this? More exploration of different ideas? More coordination among groups or related initiatives? A strong push for a precise technological target and, if so, which one? Anything else?

Background: Following the last FET consultation during 2012-13, 9 topics were identified as candidates for a FET Proactive. This topic has been selected for inclusion in the FET Work Programme for 2014-15. Comments are invited on whether this topic is still relevant, or if any changes would be necessary to take account of recent research results. We are also trying to understand better how to advance these areas.

To participate to the consultation:
- register to the group (create an ECAS login if you don't have one yet);
- then "log in" and enter your contribution in the "Add new comment" box, at the vey bottom of the page.
You can also participate by commenting on submitted ideas and/or voting for them.

If you wish to share with us additional documents or have any questions about the process, please send them to our FET mailbox.

 

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3 Comments

nsalmeri's picture

important multidisciplinary topic, great future potential

Noninvasive imaging techniques allow a direct window to the workings of the human brain. The pivotal developments over the past two decades were made possible by a strong interdisciplinary effort between physics, mathematics, medicine and psychology. For many aspects of sensory, motor and cognitive processing, imaging techniques can now offer a fairly consistent view of neural activation. The field is now getting to the point where we can ask, for real, what type of information the brain signals contain and convey. Recent developments in computational science are making it possible to directly interrogate the brain about the way it processes and organizes information and knowledge. For example, based on the neural activation to a certain subset of words (e.g., butterfly, house, pen etc) one can learn a model that not only links the learned words and their corresponding brain activation patterns but can predict brain patterns of previously unencountered words or, based on the measured brain pattern, suggest a word the person saw or heard. Such models, and relationships between neural representations of concepts, could provide brain-level descriptions of knowledge representation. This type of novel approaches open up a wealth of possibilities and new types of questions, such as: While brain representations of concrete concepts are probably fairly similar across individuals, languages and cultures (e.g., dog and cat are more similar to each other than either one to fork), would there be more variability for abstract concepts (e.g., freedom, democracy) and how would that manifest in communication? Could one imagine some standardized way of mapping individual brain bases of knowledge and finding a transfer function to better achieve the intended meaning in communication (kind of à la Star Trek)? Important steps in this latter direction are currently being taken (in the USA…), by finding transfer functions between individual brain representations when the subjects watch a movie (rather than matching the brain anatomy). While big data is currently a big buzz (for a good reason), the individual brain is probably what we are all most intrigued about. Europe has played a major role in development of brain imaging techniques. It has the relevant depth and width of knowledge as well as the culturally and linguistically versatile environment to make a strong impact in this field. If we have the resources to efficiently combine neuroimaging, behavioural sciences, computational sciences etc to describe the organization of knowledge in individual brains and minds, we could ideally think of ways for more efficient and individualized learning programmes (which will be needed all the more in our rapidly changing world!), improved interaction/communication between individuals (and nations?) as well as a wealth of novel human technologies.

Good luck with this important topic!
Best wishes,
Riitta Salmelin, Aalto University, Finland

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nmarcojs's picture

Very long term Knowledge Preservation

Knowledge in science is usually taken to be preserved through publications.
In our days more and more of this knowledge is linked to data (data collected and analyzed), simulation,
and the software tools used for it. There are many projects on data preservation, and even on software preservation.
But there is no easy way to capture all assumptions, intermediate steps, conditions, that are critical to get final results in many cases. And also there is no way to assure that this knowledge will be alive in 100 years from now, when the authors are no longer around (well, who knows!).
The proposal is to articulate with a very long term (100 years) scope the issue of knowledge preservation,
assuming that up to know this was the role mainly of museums and libraries, but that new and complex knowledge results will require a more complex framework.

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nlaschca's picture

Soft Robotics

It has been widely recognized in the last years that intelligence requires a body. This brought the disciplines of artificial intelligence and robotics to merge, in so-called embodiment. Further than this, modern views of artificial intelligence attributes a stronger role to the body and its interaction with the environment, in so-called embodied intelligence, or morphological computation.
Knowing, doing, being cannot be considered as functions of the brain, only; they are not just given by reasoning and computing, but they are given, in part, by the body itself, by the way it interacts with the environment and the way it reacts to such interactions.
In this perspective, while robotics has demonstrated to be an effective tool for studying neuroscience and intelligence so far, it becomes difficult to use most current robots in investigating this new view of intelligence. A physical body is needed, indeed, but it also needs adequate interactions and reactions with the environment. In one word, it needs compliance, to put in place and investigate the way how control, sensory-motor behaviour, and ultimately intelligence are given by the body itself. From robots based on rigid links and controlled actuators, there is a need to go towards robots with compliant behaviour, soft materials, and embodied intelligence, according to the recent paradigms of soft robotics.
A key point in understanding knowledge, and the functions of knowing, doing, and being, is then having a ‘soft’ robotic body.

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11 users have voted.
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