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About me

I realise this is not the usual or sensible order of doing things, but now that I've been using this blog for a couple of months I'm finally writing an introductory post.

[what follows was written in May 2005]

I am currently a PhD student in computer science, working in Randy Beer's Dynamics of Adaptive Behavior research group at Case. In a few weeks I'll be moving physically to Seattle, to be with my fiancée who has a job out there, but I'll stay registered at Case. In about a year Randy will be moving to Indiana University to join the Cognitive Science program there. Subject to as-yet-unsettled practical details, I'm hoping to switch to being a student of that department, though it's not clear how much difference this will make when I am physically elsewhere anyway.

My background is mostly outside computer science. I have a BA in psychology from the sadly now defunct School of Cognitive & Computing Sciences at the University of Sussex. I sort-of-minored (they didn't call it a minor there, but any other university would) in behaviourally-based artifical intelligence, which led me to the Evolutionary & Adaptive Systems MSc in the same department. I was lucky enough to get the chance to intern with HP Labs' Biologically-Inspired Complex Adaptive Systems group, where I did the research portion of the MSc.

Scattered through this, I've worked a little as a programmer, a little as a teaching assistant for university courses in programming and quite a lot as an I.T. trainer for a private company.

To many people, this path doesn't make sense, but it actually strongly informs what I do now, which is why I'm taking a few paragraphs to set it out. The issues that interest me most are the lower-level problems of psychology, and to some extent theoretical biology. My interests are fairly broad; I look at issues around learning and thought and particularly the organisation of adaptive behaviour.

I moved away from mainstream psychology because I found the methodological difficulty of experimenting on humans immensely frustrating, and I came to realise that the state of the art in understanding neural processing is limited that humans are the wrong kind of subjects for the kind of low-level work I'm interested in. My Master's exposed me to a lot of work in 'lower' animals, as well as to some important computational techniques; particularly artificial neural networks, embodied artificial agents and artificial evolution. I'll write more about my specific work another day, but in short these are all tools that I use to study psychological problems in simulation, which allows for the removal of experimental noise and for much tighter control of exactly what is being manipulated in a given experiment.

In short: I came to computer science looking to learn more about the tools I use, but my research is better described as cognitive science.

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Comments

The path you've chosen sounds interesting. I'd like to learn more about artificial intelligence, and it's evolution.

Posted: June 3, 2005 04:21 AM

Seems im a little late, but have only just come upon this site! I also like the stance you have taken and the move away from the mainstream.

Posted: April 21, 2007 10:12 AM

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