Format of the Conference and Guidelines to Speakers

The distinguishing format of BICA-20XX (3+1 years) is a one-track session composed of short (~15 min), exciting talks presenting new work and work in progress. At the same time, we allocate an ample time for informal discussions of emergent hot topics by including numerous presentations of position papers, intermittent open-format panel discussions, and social events. It has been our tradition to have several keynotes at each BICA conference. It is also our tradition to have multiple, relatively short keynote talks that, in addition to presenting new work, introduce emergent new topics in BICA research (e.g., episodic memory). A typical technical session focuses on a particular topic and begins with a keynote followed by 4-6 regular talks (each followed by questions), then ends with a panel discussion. A panel discussion starts with a short introduction by the leader opening the floor to statements of panelists and questions from the audience. Timing of talks is enforced with electronic equipment. Each regular speaker is required to publish an abstract or a paper in the Proceedings (all publications are peer-refereed). As in the previous year, we plan to do videorecordings of all talks that will be made available on the Internet with speaker's permission.

Confirmed Keynotes and Invited Speakers of BICA 2011

  • KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Murray P. Shanahan, Professor of Cognitive Robotics, Computational Neurodynamics Group, Department of Computing, Imperial College London,

    TOPIC: Serial from Parallel, Unity from Multiplicity: What Emerges from Global Workspace Architecture


ABSTRACT: Systems that generate near-optimal global states from local interactions will tend to exhibit high dynamical complexity, that is to say a balance of segregated and integrated activity. A central conjecture of my recent work is that high dynamical complexity is achievable in a large dynamical system (such as a brain) when the interactions of its massively numerous components are mediated by a hierarchically modular small-world network with a pronounced connective core of hub nodes. In an embodied setting, this connective core is a global workspace, a communications infrastructure that, in the conscious condition, allows the brain’s full battery of resources to be directed on the situation at hand. Global from local, serial from parallel, and unity from multiplicity — all of these forms of emergence, according to the conjecture, are a consequence of the same principles of organisation.

ABSTRACT: Epigenetic and enactive robotics have been proposed as testbeds for psycho-biological models of the mind. These approaches shortened the distance between the artificial and the natural mind by stressing the importance of the unity between the brain, the body and the environment. At the same time, nowadays robotic researchers openly acknowledge the importance of experience which has been not sufficiently considered in the recent past. The process went so far that the field of machine consciousness is now part of the scientific landscape. The externalist approach identifies experience with relations, processes or acts between an agent and its environment. Externalism is the view according to which the brain and its neural activity is necessary but not sufficient to produce the conscious mind. The externalist approach locates the subject and experience processes in a context wider than brain-oriented approaches. Because of this fact, the externalist standpoints allows to start from methodological and ontological premises suitable for the study of experience and of other subjective contents inside an experimental framework. The talk will review the externalist-oriented approaches and it will present the main ideas at the basis of the emerging field of externalist robotics. The aims of this research is to experiment, in a circumscribed number of cases, whether it is possible to apply such an architecture in the fields of robotics, of psychology and of philosophy of mind.

  • KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Keith Downing, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Department of Computer and Information Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway,

    TOPIC: Evolving Artificial Intelligence


ABSTRACT: I'd look at some basic principles of brain evolution and show how we're trying to integrate them into our system for evolving neural networks.

  • INVITED SPEAKER: Alberto Lacaze, President, Robotic Research LLC,

    TOPIC: Jim Albus contributions to the field of robotics as an extension to the "People's capitalism" ideals.

    SUMMARY: On April 17, 2011, we lost the greatest leader of BICA community: Dr. James S. Albus (, A short memorial in his honor will be given at the conference.

    James S. Albus (1935-2011)

  • INVITED SPEAKER: Brandon S. Minnery, Program Manager, IARPA Office of Incisive Analysis

    TOPIC: IARPA's ICArUS Program: Brain-Inspired Cognitive Models for Intelligence Analysis

    ABSTRACT: Intelligence analysts are frequently called upon to explain data that are sparse, noisy, and uncertain. This process, termed sensemaking, is a basic human cognitive ability as well as a foundational component of intelligence analysis. Yet despite its importance, sensemaking remains a poorly understood phenomenon. The goal of the ICArUS Program is to construct integrated computational cognitive neuroscience models of human sensemaking. By shedding light on the fundamental mechanisms of sensemaking, ICArUS models will enable the Intelligence Community to better predict human-related strengths and failure modes in the intelligence analysis process and will point to new strategies for enhancing analytic tools and methods. Furthermore, ICArUS models may help to establish a new generation of automated.

  • INVITED SPEAKER: David C. Noelle, University of California, Merced


    ABSTRACT PLACEHOLDER: I have not yet reached a firm decision concerning the material that I would like to cover in this talk. I am currently considering talking about a new project involving a neuromorphic computational mechanism for learning from the combination of situated rule-like instructions from a knowledgeable teacher and reward-based feedback on task performance, reflecting hypothesized interactions between the basal ganglia and the prefrontal cortex.

  • INVITED SPEAKER: Frank Ritter, College of Information Sciences and Technology, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and Department of Psychology, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

    TOPIC: Adding a much needed physiological substrate to ACT-R


  • INVITED SPEAKER: Jeff Krichmar, Department of Cognitive Sciences, University of California, Irvine

    TOPIC: Neuromorphic and Brain-Based Robots


  • INVITED SPEAKER: David Vernon, Circular Dynamics, Ireland

    TOPIC: The challenges of reconciling utility with autonomy: A roadmap and architecture for the development of cognition in humanoid robots.


  • INVITED SPEAKER: Witali L. Dunin-Barkowski, Professor and Chair, Department of Neuroinfomatics, Center for Optical Neural Technologies, Scientific Research Institute for System Analysis, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow



  • INVITED SPEAKER: Scott E. Fahlman, Research Professor, Language Technologies Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.

    TOPIC: Parallel and Serial Components in Human-Like Intelligence.

    ABSTRACT: The human mind can do many amazing things. Of particular interest are a set of cognitive abilities such as simple inference and recognition that are computationally very demanding, but that we humans perform without any perceptible delay or any sense of mental effort – this despite the fact that our brains use slow, millisecond-speed components. In this position paper, I present a brief inventory of human mental operations that exhibit this kind of surprising efficiency. I suggest that we humans accomplish these feats by (a) avoiding the computationally intractable forms of these problems and (b) by applying massively parallel processing, though perhaps of a very simple kind. This is not a new suggestion – some of these ideas were first developed in my mid-1970s work on NETL. However, I believe that a renewed focus on the parallel vs. serial components of mental processing can help us both in understanding human intelligence and in achieving human-like performance in our AI systems.

Among Other Speakers and Panelists

  • Christian Lebiere (Carnegie Mellon U)
  • Ronald Arkin (student of, Georgia Tech)
  • Charles Peck (Biometaphorical Computing Research, IBM Watson)
  • Junichi Takeno (Robot Science Lab, Meiji U, Japan)
  • Paul Kogut (Lockheed Martin)
  • Ben Goertzel (Novamente & Biomind)
  • Jim Reggia (U Maryland)
  • Paul Rosenbloom (U Southern California)
  • Mark Reimers (VCU School of Medicine)
  • Konstantin Anokhin (Keldysh Institute RAS, Moscow)
  • Paul Robertson (DOLL)

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