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  • Public defence: 2024-03-22 13:15 Högskolan i Skövde, D107, Skövde
    Lagerstedt, Erik
    University of Skövde, School of Informatics. University of Skövde, Informatics Research Environment.
    Perceiving agents: Pluralism, interaction, and existence2024Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Perception is a vast subject to study. One way to approach and study it might therefore be to break down the concept into smaller pieces. Specific modes of sensation, mechanisms, phenomena, or contexts might be selected as the proxy or starting point for addressing perception as a whole. Another approach would be to widen the concept, and attempt to study perception through the larger context of which it is a part. I have, in this thesis, attempted the latter strategy, by emphasising an existential perspective, and examine the role and nature of perception through that lens.

    The larger perspective of broadening the scope does not specifically allow for better answers, but rather different kinds of answers, providing complementary ways of exploring what it means to be an artificial or natural agent, and what consequences that can have for the access to, as well as representation, processing, and communication of information. A broader stance can also facilitate exploration of questions regarding larger perspectives, such as the relation between individual agents, as well as their place in larger structures such as societies and cyber-physical systems.

    In this thesis I use existential phenomenology to frame the concept of perception, while drawing from theories in biology and psychology. My work has a particular focus on human-robot interaction, a field of study at a fascinating intersection of humans designing, using, and communicating with something human-made, partially human-like, yet distinctly non-human. The work is also applied to some aspects of the traffic domain which, given the increasing interest in self-driving vehicles, is partially another instance of complex and naturalistic human-robot interaction.

    Ultimately, I argue for a pluralistic and pragmatic approach to the understanding of perception, and its related concepts. To understand a system of agents as they interact, it is not only necessary to acknowledge their respective circumstances, but take serious the idea that none of the agents’ constructed worlds are more or less real, they might only be more or less relevant in relation to specific contexts, perspectives, or needs. Such an approach is particularly relevant when addressing the complexities of the increasingly urgent sustainability challenges.

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