A collection of articles on robot psychology illustrates some elementary functions which might be essential for controlling robot behavior.
Recently I discovered Hans Jonas’ “The phenomenon of Life” (1) which provides a deep insight into this subject. His definition of emotion is important and highly relevant to the design of a robot mind.
According to Jonas: Plants, animals and the human animal display an ascending development of organic functions and capabilities. The emergence of the human mind does not mark a great divide within nature but elaborates what is prefigured throughout the life-world. The organic even in its lowest forms prefigures mind, and the mind even on its highest reaches remains part of the organic.
In other words, the basics of the human mind are inherent in simple organisms like an ameba or a paramecium. If you capture the essence of their mind you might construct on it artificial mind functions.
Jonas: Three characteristics distinguish animal from plant life: motility, perception , and emotion (p. 99). All three manifest a common principle. First we ought to realize that environment and the organism are contiguous. In plants, chemicals are directly exchanged between environment and organism. Since immediacy of satisfaction is concurrent with the permanent organic need, in this condition of continuous feeding there is no room for desire. Plants lack emotions.
Plants continually synthesize inorganic matter directly into organic compounds, while animals depend on organic matter.
Jonas: The animal feeds on existing life, continuously destroys its mortal supply and has to seek elsewhere for more. The appearance of directed long-range motility thus signifies the emergence of emotional life. Greed is at the bottom of chase, fear at the bottom of flight. If appetition is the basic condition of motility, pursuit is the primary motion. Fulfillment not yet at hand is the essential condition of desire. Emotion implies distance between need and satisfaction.
Emotions are embodied
These excerpts illustrate the novelty of Jonas’ approach. His philosophy of biology is based on Phenomenology:
1. Hans Jonas The Phenomenon of Life- Toward a Philosophical Biology
Northwestern University Press Evanston Ill 2001