• Question: will your research help understand how our brain works

    Asked by mattjames57 to Alan on 15 Mar 2011 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Alan Winfield

      Alan Winfield answered on 15 Mar 2011:

      Hmm. That’s a good question. I would say that in my own research the answer is no. That’s because in my robots I am not trying to model brains. However if you had said ‘will your research help understand how intelligence works’ then I would have said yes. I’m very interested in how intelligent behaviour arises, and I think it’s as much to do with bodies as brains, and also the environment. In other words I think you are intelligent because you have a body and a brain and you are in (and have been brought up in) a rich complex environment (i.e. the world). In my robots I try to model how simple brains (i.e. robots with very simple programmed rules) still give rise to complex ‘intelligent’ behaviour when they are in physical robot bodies that interact with other physical robots and with their environment. If you’re interested in the question of robot intelligence I wrote about this on my blog here:

      ps. There are other roboticists in our lab in Bristol who *are* trying to understand how brains work by modelling (very small) parts of the rat’s brain. They have built a robot model of the rat’s whiskers and the part of it’s brain that process the information from the whiskers. It’s an amazing project and you can find out more about it here: