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Institute of Cognitive and Brain Sciences

University of California at Berkeley
3210 Tolman Hall MC 1650
Berkeley, CA 94720-1650

Administration support for the Institute is provided by the staff of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. See the administration page for help and information.


All talks are in 5101 Tolman Hall, 11am-12:30pm.

September 4

Minds, Brains, and Cookies Social

Come talk about your recent research and eat cookies!

September 11

Presenter: Anca Dragan, UC Berkeley

Title: Robots that reason about people

Abstract: The goal of my research is to enable robots to work with, around, and in support of people, autonomously producing behavior that reasons about both their function and their interaction with humans. I aim to develop a formal understanding of interaction that leads to algorithms which are informed by mathematical models of how humans interact with robots, enabling generalization across robot morphologies and interaction modalities. In this talk, I will focus on one specific instance of this agenda: autonomously generating motion for coordination during human-robot collaborative manipulation. Most motion in robotics is solely functional: industrial robots move to package parts, vacuuming robots move to suck dust, and personal robots move to clean up a dirty table. This type of motion is ideal when the robot is performing a task in isolation. Collaboration, however, does not happen in isolation, and demands that we move beyond solely functional motion. In collaboration, the robot's motion has an observer, watching and interpreting the motion - inferring the robot's intent from the motion, and anticipating the robot's motion based on its intent. My work integrates a mathematical model of these inferences into motion planning, so that the robot can generate motion that matches people's expectations and clearly conveys its intent. In doing so, I draw on action interpretation theory, Bayesian inference, constrained trajectory optimization, and interactive learning. The resulting motion not only leads to more efficient collaboration, but also increases the fluency of the interaction as defined through both objective and subjective measures.

October 2

Presenter: Alexei Efros, UC Berkeley

Title: Visual understanding without naming

Abstract: Most modern visual understanding approaches rely on supervision by word labels to achieve their impressive performance. But there are many more things in our visual world than we have words to describe them with. Using words as supervisory signal risks missing out on much of this visual subtlety. In this talk, I will describe some of our recent efforts to bypass this "language bottleneck" and instead use information that is already in the data, such as context and visual consistency, to help in visual understanding, visual correspondence, and image retrieval.

October 30

Presenter: Florian Jaeger, University of Rochester

Title: TBA

November 13

Presenter: Liane Young, Boston College

Title: The structure of morality

Abstract: The capacity to process mental states like beliefs and intentions, theory of mind (ToM), is crucial for moral judgment (e.g., distinguishing murder from manslaughter). In this talk, we'll look at the role of ToM not just for moral judgment but also for moral behavior across distinct social contexts (e.g., cooperation vs competition) as well as for distinguishing moral propositions from non-moral propositions (i.e., facts, preferences). We will use the approach of looking at the role of ToM to investigate the structure of morality - to test claims about distinct moral domains, distinct moral motivations, and distinct features of moral versus non-moral processing. The talk will include neural evidence as well as behavioral evidence from adults and children.

November 20

Presenter: Melissa Koenig, University of Minnesota

Title: Characterizing two routes to testimonial knowledge: Sources of protection and vulnerability