The aim of this thesis is to explain the emergence of active perception. It takes an interdisciplinary approach, by providing the necessary conceptual foundations for active perception research - the key notions that bridge the conceptual gaps remaining in understanding emergent behaviours of active perception in the context of robotic implementations. On the one hand, the autonomous agent approach to mobile robotics claims that perception is active. On the other hand, while explanations of emergence have been extensively pursued in Artificial Life, these explanations have not yet successfully accounted for active perception.
The main question dealt with in this thesis is how active perception systems, as behaviour -based autonomous systems, are capable of providing relatively optimal perceptual guidance in response to environmental challenges, which are somewhat unpredictable. The answer is: task -level emergence on grounds of complicatedly combined computational strategies, but this notion needs further explanation.
To study the computational strategies undertaken in active perception re- search, the thesis surveys twelve implementations. On the basis of the surveyed implementations, discussions in this thesis show that the perceptual task executed in support of bodily actions does not arise from the intentionality of a homuncu- lus, but is identified automatically on the basis of the dynamic small mod- ules of particular robotic architectures. The identified tasks are accomplished by quasi -functional modules and quasi- action modules, which maintain transformations of perceptual inputs, compute critical variables, and provide guidance of sensory -motor movements to the most relevant positions for fetching further needed information. Given the nature of these modules, active perception emerges in a different fashion from the global behaviour seen in other autonomous agent research.
The quasi- functional modules and quasi- action modules cooperate by estimating the internal cohesion of various sources of information in support of the envisaged task. Specifically, such modules basically reflect various computational facilities for a species to single out the most important characteristics of its ecological niche. These facilities help to achieve internal cohesion, by maintaining a stepwise evaluation over the previously computed information, the required task, and the most relevant features presented in the environment.
Apart from the above exposition of active perception, the process of task - level emergence is understood with certain principles extracted from four models of life origin. First, the fundamental structure of active perception is identified as the stepwise computation. Second, stepwise computation is promoted from baseline to elaborate patterns, i.e. from a simple system to a combinatory system. Third, a core requirement for all stepwise computational processes is the comparison between collected and needed information in order to insure the contribution to the required task. Interestingly, this point indicates that active perception has an inherent pragmatist dimension.
The understanding of emergence in the present thesis goes beyond the distinc- tion between external processes and internal representations, which some current philosophers argue is required to explain emergence. The additional factors are links of various knowledge sources, in which the role of conceptual foundations is two -fold. On the one hand, those conceptual foundations elucidate how various knowledge sources can be linked. On the other, they make possible an interdisci- plinary view of emergence. Given this two -fold role, this thesis shows the unity of task -level emergence. Thus, the thesis demonstrates a cooperation between sci- ence and philosophy for the purpose of understanding the integrity of emergent cognitive phenomena.