[Photos of Munich, Germany]
8-13 May 2005, Munich, Germany
The 3rd International Conference on Pervasive Computing

Keynote at Pervasive 2005

Intelligent Artifacts: the Interaction of Brain, Body, and Environment

[Rolf Pfeifer]

By Rolf Pfeifer, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Dept. of Informatics, University of Zurich

Download the slides including the videos of the keynote by Rolf Pfeifer (PDF, 280MB)


Today, the view of the brain as the "seat of intelligence" is still widely held. By analogy, it is believed that the intelligence of robots and artifacts in general, is to be found in the central control programs, which has been the major focus in the field. Also, much of the work in pervasive computing is dedicated to sophisticated sensor processing. Research over the last ten years or so in robotics, artificial intelligence, and design of intelligent artifacts at large, has demonstrated that this view is too restricted and that intelligence must be seen as a property of an entire "organism" or artifact which results from the subtle interaction of brain (control), morphology (shape), materials, and system-environment interaction. The implications of these ideas which sometimes run under the heading of "embodiment" for the design of intelligent artifacts can hardly be overestimated: they often lead to surprising insights and a completely new understanding. In the talk, the basic ideas will be illustrated with many examples and related to the field of ubiquitous computing.

About the Speaker

Rolf Pfeifer received his masters degree in physics and mathematics and his Ph.D. in computer science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. He spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at Carnegie-Mellon University and at Yale University in the US. Since 1987 he has been a professor of computer science at the Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, and director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Having worked as a visiting professor and research fellow at Free University of Brussels, the MIT Artificial Intelligence laboratory, the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) in San Diego, and the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris, he was elected "21st Century COE Professor, Information Science and Technology" at the University of Tokyo for 2003/2004, from where he held the first global, fully interactive, videoconferencing-based lecture series "The AI Lectures from Tokyo" (including Tokyo, Beijing, Jeddah, Warsaw, Munich, and Zurich). His research interests are in the areas of embodiment, biorobotics, artificial evolution and morphogenesis, self-reconfiguration and self-repair, and educational technology. He is the author of the book "Understanding Intelligence" (co-author: C. Scheier) and he is currently working on a popular science book entitled "How the body shapes the way we think: a new view of intelligence," MIT Press, 2005/2006 (with Josh Bongard). He has published over 100 scientific articles.