ICT embraces control
Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Information and communication technology embraces control.
A Status report prepared by the IFAC Coordinating Committee on
Computers, Cognition and Communication

Wolfgang A. Halang, Ricardo Sanz , Robert Babuska & Hubert Roth

A new approach in control engineering (‘‘Information Processing for Action’’) is presented, in which control, computers, communication and cognition play equal roˆ les in addressing real-life problems from very small-scale devices to very large-scale industrial processes and non-technical applications. Thus, the C2 paradigm of ‘‘Computers for Control’’ is shifting towards the C4 paradigm of ‘‘Computers, Communication and Cognition for Control’’ providing an integrated perspective on the roˆ le computers play in control systems and control plays in computer systems. This change is mainly due to new developments in computers and knowledge management, and the rapidly emerging field of telecommunications providing a number of possible applications in control. Control engineers will have to master computer and software technologies to be able to build the systems of the future, and software engineers need to use control concepts to master the ever-increasing complexity of computing systems.

Annual Reviews in Control, volume 30 (2006), pages 31–40

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 19 September 2006 )
The business case for conscious machines
Saturday, 17 June 2006

It may sound strange to claim for the existence of a business case for conscious machines when there is even disagreement on the role that consciousness play in natural systems and its evolutionary value. This is clearly shown in the fact that there is even a school of thought that claims that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, i.e. nothing we can't live without.

Obviously, we don't think that way, and the best proof of its evolutionary value is our own everyday perception of consciousness: What do you prefer? a conscious or an unconscious taxi driver? What do you prefer? a conscious or an unconscious neurosurgeon? It's pretty clear that consciousness do play an important role in the correct execution of tasks, in the exercising of adequate behaviour in the presence of uncertainty.

But beyond exploring ideas on what consciousness is and how can it be manifested by an artificial agent we may consider the question of real needs for this technology. Is there any real business case for it?

Indeed it is. Not one but many business cases. Let's mention just two in quite different niches and then do some analysis that may serve as a general business drive for this technology.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
Why read?
Sunday, 07 May 2006

There are several conclusions (or just changes of point of view?) from the perspective of the cognitive sciences regarding the process of knowledge acquisition by reading.

Readers don't get but construct meanings

This is of special relevance to us doe to the nature of the research work we're performing.

Meaning is not just in the words on the page. The reader constructs meaning by making inferences and interpretations in his own mental context, his model of the world.

Reading researchers believe that information is stored in long-term memory in organized "knowledge structures." The essence of learning is linking new information to prior knowledge about the topic. This is a form of model integration.

How well a reader constructs meaning depends in part on metacognition, the reader's ability to think about and control the learning process (i.e., to plan, monitor comprehension, and revise the use of strategies and comprehension); and attribution, beliefs about the relationship among performance, effort, and responsibility.

Reading and writing are integrally related. That is, reading and writing have many characteristics in common. Also, readers increase their comprehension by writing, and reading about the topic improves writing performance.

Collaborative learning is a powerful approach for teaching and learning. The goal of collaborative learning is to establish a community of learners in which students are able to generate questions and discuss ideas freely with the teacher and each other. Students often engage in teaching roles to help other students learn and to take responsibility for learning. This approach involves new roles for teachers. We have tried to provide some support for this in our new courseware site.

To get more details on research about reading processes, visit Knuth & Jones web page What Does Research Say About Reading?.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
Monday, 15 May 2006

Wrapping a Mobile Robot with RT-CORBA

Ricardo Sanz, Adolfo Hernando, Carlos Martínez and Ignacio López

To be presented at SYROCO 2006, 8th International IFAC Symposium on Robot Control.


Building complex controllers is a ma jor challenge and it is widely accepted that ob ject technology can help with the problem. This is of special relevance in the field of complex robot control, in particular when distribution is necessary. CORBA is a suitable technology for deployment and is well demon- strated in the experimental field and in commercial robots. In this paper we describe the implementation of a real-time ob ject wrapper for a mobile robot using Real-time CORBA technology. This type of wrapping enables the implementation of networked robot control systems with increased degrees of predictability.

Get the file

Last Updated ( Saturday, 17 June 2006 )
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