Biological brains are increasingly cast as 'prediction machines'; evolved organs forever trying to predict their own streams of incoming sensory stimulation. Rich, world-revealing perception only occurs, these stories suggest, when cascading neuronal activity is able to match the incoming sensory signal with a multi-level stream of apt 'top-down' predictions. This blurs the lines between perception, thought, and imagination, revealing them as inextricably tied together. In this talk, I first introduce this general explanatory schema, and then discuss these (and other) implications. I end by asking what all this suggests concerning the fundamental nature of our perceptual contact with the world.
Andy Clark was appointed to the Chair in Logic and Metaphysics at University of Edinburgh in 2004. Prior to that he had taught at the University of Glasgow, the University of Sussex, Washington University in St Louis, and Indiana University, Bloomington. He was Director of the Philosophy/Neuroscience/Psychology Program at Washington University in St Louis, and Director of the Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University. His research interests include philosophy of mind and artificial intelligence, including robotics, artificial life, embodied cognition, and mind, technology and culture.