•  21
    Complex systems are to be seen as typically having multiple levels of organization. For instance, in the behavioural and cognitive sciences, there has been a long lasting trend, promoted by the seminal work of David Marr, putting focus on three distinct levels of analysis: the computational level, accounting for the What and Why issues, the algorithmic and the implementational levels specifying the How problem. However, the tremendous developments in neuroscience knowledge about processes at dif…Read more
  •  227
    Is any unified theory of brain function possible? Following a line of thought dat- ing back to the early cybernetics (see, e.g., Cordeschi, 2002), Clark (in press) has proposed the action-oriented Hierarchical Predictive Coding (HPC) as the account to be pursued in the effort of gain- ing the “Grand Unified Theory of the Mind”—or “painting the big picture,” as Edelman (2012) put it. Such line of thought is indeed appealing, but to be effectively pursued it should be confronted with experimental …Read more
  •  1
    The year 1943 is customarily considered as the birth of cybernetics. Artificial Intelligence (AI) was officially born thirteen years later, in 1956. This chapter is about two theories on human cognitive processes developed in the context of cybernetics and early AI. The first theory is that of the cyberneticist Donald MacKay, in the framework of an original version of self-organizing systems; the second is that of Allen Newell and Herbert Simon (initially with the decisive support of Clifford Sh…Read more
  • Artificial Intelligence and evolutionary theory: Herbert Simon's unifying framework
    In C. Cellucci, E. Grosholz & E. Ippoliti (eds.), Logic and knowledge, Cambridge Scholars Press. 2011.
    A number of contributions are been given in recent years to illustrate Herbert Simon’s multidisciplinary approach to the study of behaviour. In this chapter, I give a brief picture of the origins of Simon’s bounded rationality in the framework of rising AI. I show then how seminal it was Simon’s insight on the unifying role of bounded rationality in different fields, from evolutionary theory to domains traditionally difficult for AI decision-making, such as those of real-life and real-world prob…Read more
  • Le radici moderne del recupero scientifico della teologia
    Nuova Civiltà Delle Macchine 11 (3/4). 1993.
  • A Few Words On Representation And Meaning
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 6 (1): 19-21. 1992.
  •  1
    Mechanical models in psychology in the 1950s
    In S. Bem, H. Rappard & W. van Horn (eds.), Studies in the History of Psychology and the Social Sciences 3, Psychologisch Instituut Leiden. 1985.
    In this paper some applications and methodological developments of mechanical models in psychology in the 1950s are examined. During that period, a new conception of the theory-model relationship in psychology become evident, which had been proposed earlier by the mechanistic trend in psychology in the 1930s. Such a conception allowed psychologists a new approach to many problems in theoretical psychology, such as the role of hypotheses and neurophysiology in psychological explanation and the po…Read more
  •  55
    Which kind of machine consciousness?
    International Journal of Machine Consciousness 2 (1): 31-33. 2010.
    Aaron Sloman remarks that a lot of present disputes on consciousness are usually based, on the one hand, on re-inventing “ideas that have been previously discussed at lenght by others”, on the other hand, on debating “unresolvable” issues, such as that about which animals have phenomenal consciousness. For what it’s worth I would make a couple of examples, which are related to certain topics that Sloman deals with in his paper, and that might be useful for introducing some comments in the follow…Read more
  •  317
    Early-connectionism machines
    AI and Society 14 (3-4): 314-330. 2000.
    In this paper I put forward a reconstruction of the evolution of certain explanatory hypotheses on the neural basis of association and learning that are the premises of connectionism in the cybernetic age and of present-day connectionism. The main point of my reconstruction is based on two little-known case studies. The first is the project, published in 1913, of a hydraulic machine through which its author believed it was possible to simulate certain essential elements of the plasticity of nerv…Read more
  • A Balance Sheet of Contemporary Empiricism
    Scientia 67 (8): 399. 1973.
  •  666
    Since the second half of the XXth century, researchers in cybernetics and AI, neural nets and connectionism, Artificial Life and new robotics have endeavoured to build different machines that could simulate functions of living organisms, such as adaptation and development, problem solving and learning. In this book these research programs are discussed, particularly as regard the epistemological issues of the behaviour modelling. One of the main novelty of this book consists of the fact that cer…Read more
  • In this chapter the early history of Computer Science, Cybernetics and Artificial Intelligence is sketched. More recent developments of AI and the philosophy of Cognitive Science are also discussed.
  •  310
    Heuristic programming was the first area in which AI methods were tested. The favourite case-studies were fairly simple toy- problems, such as cryptarithmetic, games, such as checker or chess, and formal problems, such as logic or geometry theorem-proving. These problems are well-defined, roughly speaking, at least in comparison to real-life problems, and as such have played the role of Drosophila in early AI. In this chapter I will investigate the origins of heuristic programming and the shift …Read more
  •  310
    AI turns fifty: Revisiting its origins
    Applied Artificial Intelligence 21 259-279. 2007.
    The expression ‘‘artificial intelligence’’ (AI) was introduced by John McCarthy, and the official birth of AI is unanimously considered to be the 1956 Dartmouth Conference. Thus, AI turned fifty in 2006. How did AI begin? Several differently motivated analyses have been proposed as to its origins. In this paper a brief look at those that might be considered steps towards Dartmouth is attempted, with the aim of showing how a number of research topics and controversies that marked the short histor…Read more
  • Norbert Wiener's vision of the "information society"
    with Teresa Numerico
    Ontology Studies/Cuadernos de Ontología. 2008.
    In this paper we will illustrate some of the technological, ethical and political issues, under discussion at present. These were raised by Wiener from the 1940s on, and include the responsibility of the scientist in war, decisions on the exploitation of technological innovations, copyright issues raised by communication technologies, the social control made possible by digital devices, and the inspirational role of research in some critical areas of social development. We will try to obtain som…Read more
  • In this paper several reformulations of William Ross Ashby and Norbert Wiener’s classical claims on purposive behavior are examined. Next restatements of this issue are then discussed, particularly as regards the following question: is it possible to extend the concepts and methods of mechanical (physical) explanation to psychological explanation, in order to explain human (and animal) purposive behavior? This question was restated in the 1950s as follows: are negative feedback and homeostatic m…Read more
  •  239
    The early examples of self-directing robots attracted the interest of both scientific and military communities. Biologists regarded these devices as material models of animal tropisms. Engineers envisaged the possibility of turning self-directing robots into new “intelligent” torpedoes during World War I. Starting from World War II, more extensive interactions developed between theoretical inquiry and applied military research on the subject of adaptive and intelligent machinery. Pioneers of Cyb…Read more
  •  52
    In this article, I shall examine some of the issues and questions involved in the technology of autonomous robots, a technology that has developed greatly and is advancing rapidly. I shall do so with reference to a particularly critical field: autonomous military robotic systems. In recent times, various issues concerning the ethical implications of these systems have been the object of increasing attention from roboticists, philosophers and legal experts. The purpose of this paper is not to dea…Read more
  •  721
    The discovery of the artificial: some protocybernetic developments 1930-1940
    Artificial Intelligence and Society 5 (3): 218-238. 1991.
    In this paper I start from a definition of “culture of the artificial” which might be stated by referring to the background of philosophical, methodological, pragmatical assumptions which characterizes the development of the information processing analysis of mental processes and of some trends in contemporary cognitive science: in a word, the development of AI as a candidate science of mind. The aim of this paper is to show how (with which plausibility and limitations) the discovery of the ment…Read more
  • The term cybernetics was first used in 1947 by Norbert Wiener with reference to the centrifugal governor that James Watt had fitted to his steam engine, and above all to Clerk Maxwell, who had subjected governors to a general mathematical treatment in 1868. Wiener used the word “governor” in the sense of the Latin corruption of the Greek term kubernetes, or “steersman.” Wiener defined cybernetics as the study of “control and communication in the animal and the machine” (Wiener 1948). This defini…Read more
  • Bilancio dell'empirismo contemporaneo
    Scientia 67 (8): 399. 1973.
  •  244
    Bayesian models and simulations in cognitive science
    Workshop Models and Simulations 2, Tillburg, NL. 2007.
    Bayesian models can be related to cognitive processes in a variety of ways that can be usefully understood in terms of Marr's distinction among three levels of explanation: computational, algorithmic and implementation. In this note, we discuss how an integrated probabilistic account of the different levels of explanation in cognitive science is resulting, at least for the current research practice, in a sort of unpredicted epistemological shift with respect to Marr's original proposal.
  • The rise and some more recent developments of the machine-simulation methodology of living-organism behavior are discussed in this paper. In putting forward these issue, my aim is that of isolating recurring themes which help understanding the development of such a machine-simulation methodology, from its, so to speak, discovery during the first half of the twentieth century up to the present time. The machine designed by the engineer S. Bent Russell in 1913 seems to share the core of at least s…Read more
  • L'intelligenza Artificiale Tra Psicologia E Filosofia
    Nuova Civiltà Delle Macchine 6 (1/2): 43-52. 1988.
  •  44
    A few words on representation and meaning. Comments on H.A. Simon's paper on scientific discovery
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 6 (1). 1992.
    My aim here is to raise a few questions concerning the problem of representation in scientific discovery computer programs. Representation, as Simon says in his paper, "imposes constraints upon the phenomena that allow the mechanisms to be inferred from the data". The issue is obviously barely outlined by Simon in his paper, while it is addressed in detail in the book by Langley, Simon, Bradshaw and Zytkow (1987), to which I shall refer in this note. Nevertheless, their analysis would appear to …Read more
  • The notion of loop in the study of consciousness
    with Guglielmo Tamburrini and Giuseppe Trautteur
    The notion of loop seems to be ubiquitous in the study of organisms, the human mind and symbolic systems. With the possible exception of quantum-mechanical approaches, the treatments of consciousness we are acquainted with crucially appeal to the concept of loop. The uses of loops in this context fall within two broad classes. In the first one, loops are used to express the control of the organism’s interaction with the environment; in the second one, they are used to express self-reference. Bot…Read more
  • Storia del Pensiero Filosofico e Scientifico - 8° vol.
    with Ludovico Geymonat, Carlo Becchi, Enrico Bellone, Francesco Bertola, Giovanni Boniolo, Umberto Bottazzini, Salvatore Califano, Mauro Ceruti, Gilberto Corbellini, Alessandra Gliozzi, Felice Ippolito, Gabriele Lolli, Alberto Oliverio, Bianca Oscurati, and Corrado Mangione
    Garzanti. 1996.