Some Armchair Worries about Wheeled Behavior

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4 Author(s)

Autonomous agents research aims to understand adaptive behavior by building models that exhibit such behavior. In this paper, I describe some theoretical worries about the tendency to simplify the sensorymotor control of these behaving models as much as possible. Wheeled robots provide a good example of this tendency. The worries derive from the idea that a complex sensory-motor system is a necessary requirement for reliable functional behavior in a natural environment. The evidence on which I base this conviction is three-fold: (a) when animals, but not wheeled robots, move across a surface this results from variable spatio-temporal patterns across a complex sensory-motor system. (b) a theoretical analysis according to which the stability of distal behavior arises as a result of the variability of proximal behavior, and (c) the possibility to interpret the behavior of animals, but not that of wheeled robots, as a process of self-organization. The use of wheeled robots therefore seems to side step a core problem for understanding adaptive behavior.