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DeLTA Event - Matthew Lira "Are Robots Embodied?"

Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 3:30pm
Gilmore Hall

The DeLTA Center and Matthew Lira (Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences) invite you to join us for an embodied programming experience where faculty and students collaborate to build a simple robot and discuss the classic problem of embodiment in cognitive science. The robot will be built with magnetic blocks called Cubelets—these blocks are pre-programed to either Sense, Think, or Act (see the video “Meet Cubelets”). So, they are modular, but when we combine them in unique configurations they can display increasing complexity.


Each of 4 teams will receive their own 6 blocks plus 1 battery. Our builds will be guided by the question: “What makes the robot’s cognition (or computation if you prefer) embodied or not compared to that of a human (or non-human organism if you prefer)?”


The Cubelets are intended to be a way to ground (eh hem) our conversation—one that connects back to the Turing test and the innovative Spivey test! In sum, if the Turing test asked an AI system to fool a human that it too was human, then the Spivey test asks a human to fool another human that they are an AI system! So, in the spirit of this intellectual debate, we want to discuss what criteria, if any, would allow us humans to grant embodiment to robots?

  • Readings (optional … for context)
    • Ziemke, T. (2001, September). Are robots embodied. In First international workshop on epigenetic robotics Modeling Cognitive Development in Robotic Systems (Vol. 85, pp. 701-710).
    • Spivey, M.J. (2000) Turning the tables on the Turing test: The Spivey test. Connection Science, 12:1, 91-94, DOI: 10.1080/095400900116212