“The Autonomies of Bioethics” – IAS-Research Seminar by Ion Arrieta

Date and time: 25th June 2013, at 11.00
Location: Carlos Santamaria Building, Room B14.
Speaker: Ion Arrieta
Title: The Autonomies of Bioethics
Abstract: This presentation begins with a set of distinctions between differents concepts (or families of concepts) of autonomy that are present in the theory and practice of bioethics. My porpuse is to examine how the principle of autonomy works in two different branches of bioethics, health care ethics on the one hand, characterized by the dependence of patients and users of health services, and research ethics on the other, marked by the vulnerability of the subjects. Although differents fields (health care is not a science but a practice or art, while biomedical research does aspire to be scientific), I transfer some intuitions from the first to the second field, especially those emphasizing the interactive and relational nature of autonomy. The fact that autonomy is always relational is more easily seen in healthcare ethics, but not so much in research ethics. Despite that autonomy in research ethics is more formal and less personal, I defend that it needs integrate certain aspects of healtcare, which mainly affect how we understand the autonomy of the patient or research subject in relation to the clinicians or researchers who are treating them.

“Habits as sensorimotor life-forms” – IAS-Research seminar by Matthew Egbert and Xabier E. Barandiaran

Date and Time: 11am, Tuesday 18th June, Carlos Santamaría Building, B14
Title: Habits as sensorimotor life-forms: modelling self-maintaining behaviour with an iterant deformable sensorimotor medium
Abstract: Artificial Life has not yet explored in depth the analogy between life and mind that is hidden in the nature of habits: their self-sustaining dissipative structure as ecological sensorimotor entities. We present a new dynamical model for habits implementing what we call a node-based “iterant deformable sensorimotor medium” (IDSM). The IDSM has properties designed such that trajectories taken through state space increase the likelihood that in the future, similar trajectories will be taken. We couple the IDSM to sensors and motors of a simulated body in a simulated environment and show that under certain conditions, the IDSM resonates with the other parts of the simulation, forming self-maintaining patterns of activity operating over the IDSM, the body, and the environment. These patterns of activity are similar in many respects to habits, patterns of activity that are self-reinforced. We present various environments and the resulting ‘habits’ that form in them, studying the sensorimotor coordination patterns that stabilize in the process. We discuss how this model and extensions of it can help us understand and model self-sustaining patterns of behaviour as building blocks for a theory of cognition that does no rely on representations

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