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Hardcover | Out of Print | 322 pp. | 7.1 x 9.9 in | September 1993 | ISBN: 9780262132930
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Intelligent Behavior in Animals and Robots


Intelligence takes many forms. This exciting study explores the novel insight, based on well-established ethological principles, that animals, humans, and autonomous robots can all be analyzed as multi-task autonomous control systems. Biological adaptive systems, the authors argue, can in fact provide a better understanding of intelligence and rationality than that provided by traditional AI.

In this technically sophisticated, clearly written investigation of robot-animal analogies, McFarland and Bösser show that a bee's accuracy in navigating on a cloudy day and a moth's simple but effective hearing mechanisms have as much to teach us about intelligent behavior as human models. In defining intelligent behavior, what matters is the behavioral outcome, not the nature of the mechanism by which the outcome is achieved. Similarly, in designing robots capable of intelligent behavior, what matters is the behavioral outcome.

McFarland and Bösser address the problem of how to assess the consequences of robot behavior in a way that is meaningful in terms of the robot's intended role, comparing animal and robot in relation to rational behavior, goal seeking, task accomplishment, learning, and other important theoretical issues.

About the Author

David McFarland is Reader in Animal Behaviour at the University of Oxford.


“Readers will find the clearest presentation to date of the economic analogy in ethology, an understandable presentation of the notoriously difficult cost-optimization argument of Sibly and McFarland, a development of the nontrivial scientific implications of the idea that animals behave optimally in proximate sense, and a new insight into the significance of ethological work for theorists in AI and robotics. McFarland develops a fascinating argument addressing an ancient obsession of philosophers, indeed of all thinking people—the nature of free will.”
Janet Halperin, Department of Zoology, University of Toronto
Intelligent Behavior in Animals and Robots represents an emerging field at the intersection of comparative psychology, cognitive science, artificial life, and robotics that is likely to have a tremendous impact on science and technology.”
Herbert L. Roitblat, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Manoa