Andrew Philippides 27th Nov 2013

On Wednesday 27th November, Dr Andrew Philippides, University of Sussex, will give the photo of Andy Philippidestalk “Visual route navigation in ants: a situated and embodied approach”

Building 53 Room 4025, Highfield Campus, 4-5pm. All welcome. Refreshments served after the talk.

Abstract:

The use of visual information for navigation appears to be a universal strategy for sighted animals. One particular group of expert navigators are the ants. The broad cross-disciplinary interest in studies of ant navigation is in part due to their small brains; biomimetic engineers take inspiration from elegant and parsimonious control solutions, while biologists look for a description of the minimal cognitive requirements for complex spatial behaviours. We also take an interdisciplinary approach to studying visual guided navigation of ants where we emphasise tenets familiar to Adaptive Systems practitioners; to get a full understanding of complex behaviour and how it emerges from the interaction of sensory system, body and environment, you must study natural behaviour in the natural habitat.

Behavioural experiments and natural image statistics show that visual navigation need not depend on the recognition of objects. Modelling suggests how simple behavioural routines enable navigation using familiarity detection rather than explicit recall. This leads to a new navigation algorithm which successfully navigates visually complex worlds, with routes that show many characteristics of desert ants. In particular, we show that robust navigation can be achieved with simple computation, after a single training run without specifying when or what to learn. Further, the model replicates data from classic ant navigation experiments. As such, our model represents the only detailed and complete model of insect route guidance to date. I will end by discussing applications to robotic navigation.

Hywel Williams 20th Nov 2013

On Wednesday 20th November, Dr Hywel Williams, University of Exeter, will give a joint CS4 / Sustainability Science Southampton talk “Games, networks, and climate change”

Building 53 Room 4025, Highfield Campus, 4-5pm. All welcome. Refreshments served after the talk.

Abstract:

The physical science basis of anthropogenic climate change is well established, yet effective political action to prevent its worst impacts has been hard to achieve. Policy depends on popular support, so it is important to understand how opinions are formed and when individuals will cooperate with potentially costly policies to tackle climate change. In this talk, I present results from two ongoing projects that explore different aspects of social action on climate change. The first project uses an experimental economics approach to understand when individuals will cooperate with collective action, framing the climate change issue as a “social dilemma” in which the collective benefits of preventative action conflict with the private costs of participation. In particular, we consider whether the existence of multiple possible solutions (e.g. developing geoengineering alongside mitigation) affects the likelihood of successful collective action. The second project uses data from the Twitter micro-blogging platform to map the social network of individuals who discuss climate change online. This analysis reveals a strongly polarised distribution of attitudes in the online climate debate, which has major implications for opinion formation and how consensus policy support might be achieved. The intellectual linkage between these two approaches lies in the grand challenge of understanding how – or if – large structured populations of self-interested individuals might be persuaded to take action on climate change.