Research


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Research Interests

My primary interest lies with the principle of memory-based cognition, particularly as applied to cognitive robotics. This principle states that cognition is the manipulation and utilisation of memory - the two cannot be dissociated. This has some very interesting implications for cognitive robotics and cognitive architecture implementations, and it is these that I am interested in investigating. For instance, it commits you to a common substrate for perception, action, cognition, learning (which may be regarded as the adaptation of memory), etc, and only really makes sense in the framework of constructivism (the process of development through experience-based construction of 'control' and 'knowledge' structures), through ongoing environmental interaction. Extending these ideas to social interaction in the context of human-robot interaction is becoming an equally important aspect of my research into these ideas of cognitive robotics.

My current research is conducted as part of the EU FP7 DREAM project at Plymouth University (Plymouth PI is Prof. Tony Belpaeme), where I am focusing on the cognitive and behavioural aspects of robot control to support robot-assisted therapy for autistic children. The idea here is that robots will be able to interact autonomously with autistic children for both diagnosis and therapy, though under the supervision of a therapist (supervised autonomy).

Previously, I worked as part of the EU ALIZ-E project (coordinated by Prof. Tony Belpaeme), researching memory systems to support long-term human-robot interactions. I attempted to incorporate aspects (wherever practicable) of the memory-based cognition principle to this work, resulting in a proposed departure from current models of memory for computational implementation. For example, it led to a far more active role for 'memory' than normally ascribed to it, being centrally involved in the coordination and generation of ongoing behaviour, rather than the memory system acting as a passive adjunct to the cognitive processing. Apart from the consequences for the use of memory, it also has profound implications for the nature of cognitive architecture, which I have also explored, and continue to explore. Furthermore, this work in human-robot interaction emphasises the point that the environment in which cognitive robotic systems interact is a social one, a principle I continue to apply.

In addition to this, I cultivate an interest in a wide range of biological cognition and cognitive robotic-related fields, including (and here is the compulsory non-exhaustive list of keywords for a page like this, in no particular order), morphological computation (particularly passive dynamic walkers), theories of embodiment (embodied cognition), motivation/value/emotion systems, cognitive development, sensorimotor coordination, grounding (including, but not limited to, symbol grounding) and (well, why not?) consciousness. That covers just about everything...

For a bit more detail on the research themes that I'm interested in, please see my Research Details page, or see my Publications page.



Academic Activities
  • PhD student supervision (Plymouth University): Magdalena Leshtanska (2nd supervisor, 2010-2013, withdrawn), James Kennedy (2nd supervisor, 2012-present), and Emmanuel Senft (2nd supervisor, 2014-present).  
  • Masters student project ad-hoc supervision (Plymouth University, 2011-present).
  • Ad-hoc lecturing (Plymouth University, 2010-present), including AINT101 (Artificial Life).
  • Demonstration/Marking of Masters course lab work (Plymouth University, 2010-present), supervision of 3rd year MEng group project (University of Reading, 2008-2010), and 1st and 2nd year undergraduate lab experiments (Plymouth University, 2010-present; University of Reading, 2005-2009). 
  • Design and implementation of a first year undergraduate laboratory experiment for the School of Systems Engineering, University of Reading, introducing Braitenberg Vehicles in the simulation software Webots (by Cyberbotics) - in use from January 2009.
  • In the Autumn term 2009/2010 I lectured the "Further Cognitive Systems" element of the 3rd year "Machine Intelligence" module (CY3B9; the other element of the course was taught by Prof. Kevin Warwick).

    Professional Activities

    Talks and Posters
    • Invited Speaker: International Summer School on Social Human-Robot Interaction, August 29th, 2013, "Cognitive Architecture for Social Human-Robot Interaction" (slides available from summer school website)
    • Poster Presentation: CogSys 2012, February 22nd, 2012, "Social behaviour from prior experience: a memory-centred cognitive system for social human-robot interaction"
    • Invited Seminar Speaker: Birmingham University, February 20th, 2012, "Towards a distributed associative memory for cognitive systems
    • Internal Seminar Speaker: (to Plymouth University ABC Lab), October 21st, 2010, "Developmental Memory-Based Cognitive Robotics: an introduction and overview
    • Poster Presentation: Workshop on Synthetic Neuroethology, September 9-10, 2010, "Episodic Memory for Social Interaction"
    • Presentation of Research: International Summer Research Camp On Autonomous Intelligent Robots (AIR'09), June 23-30, "Memory-Based Developmental 'Cognition' as applied to Mobile Robots"
    • Paper Presentation: 1st School of Systems Engineering Research Conference, September 25th, 2008, "Memory-Based Embodied Cognition: Introduction to a computational architecture"
    • Poster Presentation: 5th European Neuro-IT and Neuroengineering School, Delmenhorst (Germany), July 15 – 20, 2007, "Development of a memory-based architecture for robotics and investigation of animal cognition"

    Reports and Miscellaneous
    • Workshop Abstract: Cognitive Architectures for Human-Robot Interaction, Paul Baxter and Greg Trafton  (2014), Workshop at 9th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, Bielefeld, Germany - abstract 
    • Video Abstract: The Chatbot Strikes Back, James Kennedy, Joachim de Greeff, Robin Read, Paul Baxter, Tony Belpaeme (2014), video submission at 9th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, Bielefeld, Germany - abstract 
    • Technical Report: The role of Internal value systems for a developmental robotic architecturePaul Baxter and Will Browne (2009), Cybernetics Intelligence Research Group, University of Reading (U.K.) - report 
    • Internal Conference Paper: Memory-based Embodied Cognition: a Computational ArchitecturePaul Baxter and Will Browne (2008), presented at 1st School of Systems Engineering Conference, University of Reading (U.K.) - paper 
    • PhD Transfer Report: The use of Artificial Agents to explore Human Memory Control ProcessesPaul Baxter (2006), Cybernetics Intelligence Research Group, University of Reading (U.K.) - report 

    Recognition and Awards
    • Best paper nomination - RoMAN 2014
    • Third best video award - HRI 2014 
    • Best short paper award nomination - HRI 2012
    • Paper on Memory chosen by the Adaptive Behavior journal as part of their showcase of quality and novelty
    • Research on Memory for Social Robots highlighted in the RCUK "Big Ideas for the Future" report (p74) - 2011
    • Student fellowship award - ECAL 2009
    • University of Reading Alumni Travel fund - 2007 and 2009
    • Travel grant award - AISB 2006

    Conferences and Workshops attended

    My 'external brain': just a list of conferences and workshops I've been to...
    • Third International Symposium on New Frontiers of Human-Robot Interaction at AISB 2014, London (U.K.) - paper presentation, and discussion panellist 
    • International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) 2014, Bielefeld (Germany) - workshop organisation, and poster presentation 
    • International Conference on Social Robotics (ICSR) 2013, Bristol (U.K.) - poster presentation 
    • EUCognitionIII members meeting, October 2013, Brighton (U.K.)
    • Collaboration Meets Interactive Surfaces Workshop at ITS'2013, St. Andrews (U.K.) - paper presentation 
    • International Conference on Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures (BICA) 2013, Kiev (Ukraine) - paper presentation  
    • International Summer School on Social Human-Robot Interaction 2013, Christ's College Cambridge (U.K.) - invited speaker and help with organisation 
    • International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) 2013, Tokyo (Japan) - poster presentation
    • Workshop on Dynamics of Conversational Engagement, 2012, Plymouth University (U.K.)
    • International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) 2012, Boston, MA (U.S.A.) - poster presentation + nomination for best short paper
    • EUCognitionIII Kick-off meeting, Vienna (Austria)
    • Cognitive Systems Conference 2012, Vienna (Austria) - poster presentation
    • Advances in Cognitive Systems (ACS) symposium at AAAI Fall Symposium 2011, Arlington, Virginia (U.S.A.) - poster presentation
    • AISB 2011, University of York (U.K.) - paper presentation 
    • Epigenetic Robotics 2010, Orenas Slott, Lund University (Sweden) - paper and poster presentation
    • Workshop on Synthetic Neuroethology, 2010, University of Sussex (U.K.) - poster presentation
    • Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (TAROS) 2010, University of Plymouth (U.K.)
    • Epigenetic Robotics 2009, Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli, Venice (Italy) - poster presentation
    • International Conference on Adaptive and Intelligent Systems (ICAIS) 2009, University of Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt (Austria) - paper presentation
    • European Conference on Artificial Life (ECAL) 2009, The Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest (Hungary) - paper presentation + travel grant award
    • International Summer Research Camp On Autonomous Intelligent Robots (AIR) 2009, University of Aberystwyth (U.K.) - presentation of research
    • Reading GRADschool 2009, residential skills course, Henley Business School, Henley-upon-Thames (U.K.)
    • Computation of Emotions in Man and Machines 2009, The Royal Society, London (U.K.)
    • AISB Symposium on the Turing Test 2008 (Co-occured with the Loebner Prize 2008 - preliminary phase judge), University of Reading (U.K.)
    • Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (TAROS) 2008, University of Edinburgh (U.K.)
    • Epigenetic Robotics 2008, University of Sussex, Brighton (U.K.) - poster presentation
    • Dynamic Walking 2008, Delft (The Netherlands)
    • Cognition and Action Summer School 2007, Delmenhorst (Germany) - poster presentation and paper summary
    • Philosophy of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology (PPNB) 2007, University of Bristol, Bristol (U.K.)
    • Cognitive Robotics, Intelligence and Control (COGRIC) 2006, Windsor (U.K.) - involved with local organisation
    • AISB 2006, University of Bristol, Bristol (U.K.) - paper presentation + travel grant award