Special Issue "Frontiers of Embodied Artificial Intelligence: The (r-)evolution of the embodied approach in AI"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 April 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Luisa Damiano

ESARG (Epistemology of the Sciences of the Artificial Research Group), Department of Ancient and Modern Civilizations, University of Messina, Messina, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Sciences of the Artificial; Synthetic Method; (Radically) Embodied Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence; Cognitive, Developmental, Social Robotics and HRI; Self-organization; Autopoiesis; Synthetic Biology; Synthetic Ethics; Artificial Empathy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It’s been nearly three decades since the notion of “embodiment” has been adopted in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to characterize a (number of) research approach(es) divergent from the classic – “Computationalist” – one. The main novelty emphasized by this notion is a positive focalization on the role(s) played by the biological body in cognitive processes, which discards the traditional assumption that identifies artificial models of natural cognitive processes with purely “software models” – programs for computers reproducing cognitive performances observed in living systems, and primarily in humans. The driving idea of “Embodied AI” is that, in order to successfully explore natural cognitive processes, AI practitioners have to build and study “complete” or “embodied agents”: physically realized machines whose structure and functioning are based on biologically informed theses on adaptation and cognition. In other words, not programs, nor virtual agents, but biological-like robots: “embodied” and “situated” artificial systems that, like biological systems, provide themselves information about their environment by interacting with it, and, in this sense, learn about their environment through their interactive bodies – something that programs, or computers, cannot do.

Since the early 1990s, an increasing number of sub-divisions of Embodied AI have emerged in the attempt of modeling in robots all range of natural cognitive processes, human ones included. To this end, they have initiated an extremely effective exploration of adaptive bodily and neural mechanisms based on physiological, neuro-scientific and ethological research, which have produced more an more adaptable and autonomous biological-like robots. Applicative success has multiplied the novel domains of implementation of the embodied approach (e.g., epigenetic robotics, evolutionary robotics, developmental robotics, affective developmental robotics, among others), and made of Embodied AI the current mainstream of AI. It’s been since the late 1990s that literature empahizes how the establishment and consolidation of this approach, even if it did not implied the extinction of the classic one, produced a significant metamorphosis in AI research, which some of the proponents of Embodied AI tend to consider as a “revolution” – a “paradigmatic shift” in a Kuhnian sense.

Three decades after the emergence of Embodied AI, this special issue intends to explore the frontiers of the (r-)evolution it triggered in AI research. The goal is two-fold. Firstly, the special issue aims at mapping the most significant advancements of the avant-garde research in Embodied AI – from Enactive AI to SB-AI, from Strong Social Robotics to Artificial Empathy, from Android Science to Synthetic Ethics – and the related technical, theoretical, epistemological, and methodological challenges that they impose to AI research. Secondly, on the basis of this inquiry on front line research in Embodied AI, this special issue intends to address one of the most critical problems discussed by current related debate: defining the borders of Embodied AI, that is, the frontiers that distinguish its approach(es) from Classic AI. The overall purpose is to provide a perspective on contempotrary frontier trends in Embodied AI from which it is possible not only to evaluate the depth of the metamorphosis that it generated in AI, but also to identify the obstacles that currently impede Embodied AI to fully establish itself as a genuine alternative to Classic AI.

Prof. Dr. Luisa Damiano
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Philosophies is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Embodied AI
  • Enactive AI
  • SB-AI
  • Artificial Consciousness
  • Artificial Empathy
  • Cognitive Robotics
  • Developmental Robotics
  • Epigenetic Robotics
  • Android Science
  • Social Robotics
  • Synthetic Anthropology
  • Synthetic Phenomenology
  • Synthetic Ethics
  • Synthetic Method

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle Enactivism and Robotic Language Acquisition: A Report from the Frontier
Philosophies 2019, 4(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/philosophies4010011
Received: 17 January 2019 / Revised: 26 February 2019 / Accepted: 1 March 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
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In this article, I assess an existing language acquisition architecture, which was deployed in linguistically unconstrained human–robot interaction, together with experimental design decisions with regard to their enactivist credentials. Despite initial scepticism with respect to enactivism’s applicability to the social domain, the introduction [...] Read more.
In this article, I assess an existing language acquisition architecture, which was deployed in linguistically unconstrained human–robot interaction, together with experimental design decisions with regard to their enactivist credentials. Despite initial scepticism with respect to enactivism’s applicability to the social domain, the introduction of the notion of participatory sense-making in the more recent enactive literature extends the framework’s reach to encompass this domain. With some exceptions, both our architecture and form of experimentation appear to be largely compatible with enactivist tenets. I analyse the architecture and design decisions along the five enactivist core themes of autonomy, embodiment, emergence, sense-making, and experience, and discuss the role of affect due to its central role within our acquisition experiments. In conclusion, I join some enactivists in demanding that interaction is taken seriously as an irreducible and independent subject of scientific investigation, and go further by hypothesising its potential value to machine learning. Full article
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