In his quest to unlock the secrets of the human mind Professor Albert Yeap has focused on two of its major faculties - space and language.
As Director of the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research, Professor Yeap is in the right place, and his contagious enthusiasm guarantees a full research team.
“I want to know how humans become intelligent; in particular, how we build representations of large spaces in our minds, and how we acquire language.
“While a psychologist would test theories of language and space by observing subjects, and a philosopher would test them by debate, as a cognitive scientist I test my theories by looking at what a computer can learn and achieve.”
Professor Yeap has been fascinated by the mind’s ability to map spaces since he began his PhD at the University of Essex 30 years ago.
His theory is that humans and other creatures map large spaces by defining local spaces and then linking them to create a “cognitive map”. To prove this, he is creating a series of robots, each with its own cognitive ability such as being able to create a spatial map using sonar or being able to navigate complex spaces like crowded streets. Building various Albots, he argues, will tell us much about how humans and other species understand space.