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HUMANOBS Constructivist Workshop Fall 2011

From Constructionist to Constructivist Methodologies

for building Artificial Intelligence

//Reykjavik University, Reykjavik, Iceland, September 1-3//

A Challenge-Response Workshop

Go to: HUMANOBS front page

Con - struct - ionist A.I.: Artificial manmade system built by hand; while the system may gain in its performance in some limited domain, the domain itself is decided by the programmer.

Con - struct - ivist A.I.: Artifiical system that is responsible for acquiring its knowledge and thus able to learn to perceive and act intelligently in a number of domains.

The development of artificial intelligence systems has to date been largely one of manual labor. This Constructionist approach to A.I. has resulted in a diverse set of isolated solutions to relatively small pieces of the much larger question about how to artificially replicate the fundamental principles of intelligence. Small success stories of putting these pieces together in robotics, for example, has made people optimistic that continuing on this path would lead to artificial general intelligence. This is unlikely. Standard software development methods, with their standard top-down design approach, put serious limitations on scaling; in A.I. the Constructionist approach results in systems with limited domain application and severe performance brittleness. Genuine integration, as required for general intelligence, is both practically and theoretically precluded. Going beyond current A.I. systems requires significantly more complex integration than attempted to date, especially regarding transversal functions such as attention and learning. The only way to address the challenge is replacing top-down architectural design as the main development methodology with methods focusing on self-generated code and self-organizing architectures. We call this Constructivist A.I., in reference to the self-constructive principles on which it must be based. How different will the methodologies employed for Constructivist A.I. be from today's software development methods? What role can logic and reasoning play in this? How do we construct highly distributed architectures for these purposes? Do we need new programming languages?

This Workshop will explore some of the most important questions related to this impending paradigm shift in detail, through short presentations and targeted teamwork. The main results of the Workshop will subsequently be published on this Wiki.


———————————- SEPTEMBER 1st ———————————-


09:00 - 09:20 Welcome, introduction to the workshop / Day 1

09:20 - 09:50 Presentation 1

  Jörg Siekman
  Presentation of challenges 1

09:50 - 10:00 Presentation of rules for team discussions

10:00 - 10:15 COFFEE BREAK

10:15 - 11:00 Team collaboration on challenges 1

11:00 - 11:45 Challenges 1: Team conclusions and solutions

11:45 - 13:15 LUNCH

13:15 - 13:45 Presentation 2

  Eric Baum
  Presentation of challenges 2

13:45 - 14:30 Team collaboration on problems 2

14:30 - 15:15 Challenges 2: Team conclusions and solutions

15:15 - 15:45 Presentation 3

  Ricardo Sanz
  Presentation of challenges 3

15:45 - 16:00 COFFEE BREAK

16:00 - 16:45 Team collaboration on challenges 3

16:45 - 17:30 Challenges 3: Team conclusions and solutions

17:30 - 17:45 Conclusions of Day 1

———————————- SEPTEMBER 2nd ———————————-

09:00 - 09:15 Introduction to schedule for Day 2

09:15 - 09:45 Presentation 4

  Pei Wang
  Presentation of challenges 4

09:45 - 10:30 Team collaboration on challenges 4

10:30 - 10:45 COFFEE BREAK

10:45 - 11:30 Challenges 4: Team conclusions and solutions

11:30 - 12:00 Presentation 5

  Eric Nivel
  Presentation of challenges 5

12:00 - 13:00 LUNCH - Nauthóll (you will be guided - please meet up at M216)

13:00 - 13:30 Tour of the Reykjavik University building, IIIM offices, research facilities

13:30 - 14:15 Team collaboration on challenges 5

14:15 - 15:00 Challenges 5: Team conclusions and solutions

15:00 - 15:30 Presentation 6

  Kristinn R. Thórisson
  Presentation of challenges 6

15:30 - 16:15 Team collaboration on challenges 6

16:15 - 16:30 COFFEE BREAK

16:30 - 17:15 Challenges 6: Team conclusions and solutions

17:15 - 17:30 Antonio Chella: Machine Consciousness & Constructivist A.I.

17:30 - 17:50 Conclusions of Day 2 / Summary of Workshop / Introduction to Day 3

19:30 - 21:30 Dinner at Kolabrautin at the new Harpa music hall downtown Reykjavik



———————————- SEPTEMBER 3 ———————————-

08:00  Half-day excursion to Iceland's countryside, 09:00 - 14:00. Lunch and snacks will be provided.

Workshop Organization


This is a relatively small (read: exclusive) workshop (less than 30 attendees), fostering close interaction and collaboration between attendees.

Challenge-Response Format

The workshop is based on a challenge-response format where a series of (shorter than typical) presentations outline important challenges (rather than results), which are then collaboratively addressed by several small teams which subsequently present their results to the whole group.

Presentations are 25-minutes long, followed by 45-minute teamwork. Results of teamwork is subsequently presented to the whole group in a 45-minute session.


The workshop concludes on the third day (optional) with a half-day trip (9:00 - 14:00) to the Icelandic countryside (depending on sufficient sign-up).


* Hotel Klettur has available rooms with these HUMANOBS prices:

  • Standard room single 15.900,-kr.
  • Standard room double 19.650,-kr.
  • Deluxe room single 19.650,-kr.
  • Deluxe room double 22.100,-kr.
  • Triple room 24.550,-kr.
  • TO BOOK: Call or send info to with booking number 2263

* Grand Hotel has a block of rooms reserved for HUMANOBS

  • Price per night, including breakfast: ISK 21.400
  • To book use booking number 94542

Taxi from either of these to RU should take approximately 10 minutes with price around ISK 2000 (taxi rates are regulated so any variation in prices reflect traffic or time of day).

List of Invitees & Attendees

Help with booking flights and rooms is provided by Ms. Ýr Gunnlaugsdóttir at Reykjavik Univ. (email: yrg - at - ru dot is - RU's main phone num is +354 599 6200).
Please do not hesitate to contact her if you have any questions about practical arrangements, travel, workshop venue.

Anna Ingolfsdottir, Reykjavik U.
Antonio Chella, U. Palermo, Italy
Bas Steunebrink, IDSIA, Switzerland
Carlos Hernandez Corbato, U. Madrid
Deon Garrett, IIIM, Iceland
Eric Baum, USA
Eric Nivel, Reykjavik U.
Gudny R. Jonsdottir, IIIM, Iceland
Hamid Pourvatan, IIIM, Iceland
Hannes Högni Vilhjalmsson, Reykjavik U.
Haris Dindo, U. Palermo, Italy
Helgi Páll Helgason, Reykjavik U.
Hilmar Finnsson, Reykjavik U.
Hrafn Th. Thorisson, IIIM, Iceland
Ildefons Magrans de Avril, IIIM, Iceland
James Bonaiuto, Cal Tech, USA
Jan Koutnik, IDSIA, Switzerland
John-Jules Meyer, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands
Juergen Schmidhuber, IDSIA, Switzerland
Jörg Siekman, DFKI, Germany
Kristinn R. Thórisson, Reykjavik U. / IIIM, Iceland
Luca Aceto, Reykjavik U.
Manuel Rodriguez, U. Madrid
Marjan Sirjani, Reykjavik U. Mark Wernsdorfer, U. Bamberg, Germany
Max Haarich, Achen U., Germany
Pei Wang, Temple U., USA
Ricardo Sanz, U. Madrid
Thor List, Communicative Machines, UK
Yngvi Björnsson, Reykjavik U.

Team Assignments for Challenges

Collaboration With AGI Workshop on Self-Programming

AGI Workshop

We are collaborating with the AGI Workshop on self-programming, which was held in California in August. In particular, we encourage all attendees to read the papers that were presented there. They are available from here:

Papers from the AGI Workshop on Self-Programming

as both PDFs and a downloadable zip file.

Workshop Organizing Committee

Kristin R. Thórisson
Associate Professor, School of Computer Science, Reykjavik University
Director, Icelandic Institute for Intelligent Machines
Menntavegur 1
101 Reykjavik, Iceland
thorisson at
+354 898 0398

Giovanni Pezzulo
Istituto di Linguistica Computazionale “Antonio Zampolli”
Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies
National Research Council of Italy
Rome, Italy

Eric Nivel
School of Computer Science, Reykjavik University
Menntavegur 1
101 Reykjavik, Iceland

Helgi Páll Helgason
School of Computer Science, Reykjavik University
Menntavegur 1
101 Reykjavik

Support Stipend Program

The HUMANOBS Workshop has set up a Support Stipend Program for 5 students and/or junior scientists (PhD students or post-docs from less than two years) attending HUMANOBS workshop, to be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, on September 1st and 2nd, 2011.

The selected individuals will receive 750 Euro stipend to support them in their attendance; attendance on both days of the HUMANOBS workshop is required. Funds will be issued after the workshop. The individuals will be asked to present their work in the form for a poster.

Application Procedure

Send information to with resume, a short cover letter stating why the indivdual wants to attend, no later than July 31 2011 (midnight GMT).
In the resume/CV and/or cover letter the following information should be clearly stated:

  • the status of the applicant (student, junior faculty, etc.) with evidence of existing interest and expertise in AI, especially in one or more of the themes targeted by the HUMANOBS project
  • a short (1-page) abstract describing the participant's intended scientific contribution to the workshop (participants must present a poster of their own work at the workshop)
  • a contact of applicant's advisor/head of department.


The workshop is supported by a STReP research grant within the 6th European Community Framework Programme; by Reykjavik University and by the Icelandic Institute for Intelligent Machines.

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public/events/constructivist-workshop-fall-2011.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/29 15:57 by thorisson