Dept. Computer Science and Creative Technologies | University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
Ontological design is a way of defining, or constructing, a world of possibilities through design practice. Robotics is often taught in a very rationalistic and didactic fashion, focusing on the kinematics of robot motion. Ontological design is fundamentally enactive, allowing cognition to arise through a dynamic interaction between an individual and their environment. With the ontological design of robots, the focus is on learning robotic design through practice and serendipity. This paper reports on the practice of running hands-on robot workshops for children and adults, the philosophical background to this, and future direction using tangible programming tools. We learn about robots controlled, not through conventional programming, but using simple neural circuits. The inspiration for this is Braitenberg’s Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology (1984), which describes a cybernetic approach to modelling brain function. To realise learning as a fully shared experience, the ‘coding’ of the robot should be experienced as a tangible activity. We explore a sequence of robot designs that can be built using tools for augmented reality and consider the possibilities for ontological learning at each stage.
KEYWORDS: ontological design, robotics, AI, artificial intelligence