Second International Symposium on
Imitation in Animals & Artifacts

at the AISB'03 Convention, 7th-11th April 2003
University of Wales, Aberystwyth, United Kingdom, as part of the Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour Convention with the general theme of "Cognition in Machines and Animals"

Symposium Dates: 7-11 April 2003

UPDATED! Preliminary Programme

Invited Speakers:

Aude Billard (EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland & Univ. Southern California, U.S.A.)
Yiannis Demiris (Imperial College, U.K)
Ludwig Huber (University of Vienna, Austria)
John Laird (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, U.S.A.)
Robert W. Mitchell (Eastern Kentucky University, U.S.A.)
Mark Norman (Museum Victoria and University of Melbourne, Australia)
Andrew Whiten (University of St. Andrews, Scotland, U.K.)

Programme Chairs:

Kerstin Dautenhahn and Chrystopher L. Nehaniv
Adaptive Systems Research Group, University of Hertfordshire

Scope of the Symposium:

Imitation has traditionally been regarded as easy, and often scornfully dismissed as trivial, "cheating", or unworthy in comparison to higher cognitive abilities. Yet this is an illusion. Explaining the imitative abilities of humans and other animals has proved to be a complex subject. Indeed, it is highly non-trivial even to say exactly what it means for two behaviours to be the "same". The mechanisms of imitation and social learning are not well-understood, and the connections to sociality, communication, development, and learning are deep, as recent research from various disciplines has started to reveal.

Building robots and software agents that can imitate or learn socially from other artificial or human agents in an appropriate way is an endeavour that involves the deepest problems of connecting perception, experience, context, and action. This symposium will focus on state-of-the-art research into this important area that helps us to understand adaptive behaviour in social animals and machines.

The first symposium "Imitation in Animals and Artifacts" was organized by Kerstin Dautenhahn and Chrystopher Nehaniv as part of the AISB'99 Convention Edinburgh, Scotland. It brought together an international and highly interdisciplinary scientific audience. As spin offs of the symposium the organizers published a special issue of the journal Cybernetics and Systems on "Imitation in Natural and Artificial Systems", Vol. 32 (1-2), 2001 and the edited collection Imitation in Animals and Artifacts, MIT Press, 2002 [ISBN 0262042037]. The authors of the best contributions to the current symposium proceedings will be invited to submit to a special thematic journal issue (details to be announced).

The areas of interest of the symposium include but are not limited to:

Up-to-date information about the symposium will be available at


Extended abstracts (3-5 pages) should be sent as four hardcopies to the following address:

Dr. K. Dautenhahn (AISB Symposium)
Department of Computer Science
University of Hertfordshire
College Lane
Hatfield Herts AL10 9AB
United Kingdom

The following formats are acceptable: Four hardcopies (any A4 or US Letter format, max. 5 pp.). Alternatively, electronic submissions are encouraged in PDF or Plain ASCII only, via email to

Important dates:

Submission Deadline for Extended Abstracts: 15th January 2003
Notification: 4th February 2003
Submission of full papers: 7th March 2003
Symposium: 7th - 11th April 2003

Scientific Programme Committee

Tentative Schedule: 2 pm - 6 pm on 7 April, 9 am - 6 pm on 8 April, 9 am - 4:30 pm on 9 April, 9 am - 6 pm on 10 April, 9 am - 1 pm on 11 April.

Travel: Nearest UK international airports are Birmingham and Manchester from which train travel to Aberystwyth is possible. (Birmingham appears to be the most convenient, with some trains from Birmingham New Street Station requiring less than 3 hours.) UK rail timetables and other rail information is available from . Other international airports are those in the London area, but train journey times are longer from London. Full travel and local details are here at

Registration: Participants should register with the AISB'03 Convention. On-campus accommodation is recommended and must be booked with the same registration form at
(Note: Invited speakers have already been registered and their accommodation booked.)