We survey developments in artificial neural networks, in behavior-based robotics, and in evolutionary algorithms that set the stage for evolutionary robotics (ER) in the 1990s. We examine the motivations for using ER as a scientific tool for studying minimal models of cognition, with the advantage of being capable of generating integrated sensorimotor systems with minimal (or controllable) prejudices. These systems must act as a whole in close coupling with their environments, which is an essential aspect of real cognition that is often either bypassed or modeled poorly in other disciplines. We demonstrate with three example studies: homeostasis under visual inversion, the origins of learning, and the ontogenetic acquisition of entrainment.
Many artificial life researchers stress the interdisciplinary character of the field. Against such a backdrop, this report reviews and discusses artificial life, as it is depicted in, and as it interfaces with, adjacent disciplines (in particular, philosophy, biology, and linguistics), and in the light of a specific historical example of interdisciplinary research (namely cybernetics) with which artificial life shares many features. This report grew out of a workshop held at the Sixth European Conference on Artificial Life in Prague and features individual contributions from the workshop's eight speakers, plus a section designed to reflect the debates that took place during the workshop's discussion sessions. The major theme that emerged during these sessions was the identity and status of artificial life as a scientific endeavor.