Rejecting it

Rodney Brooks, in his seminal paper Intelligence without Representation rejected the idea of creating systems with internal representations of the world. He suggested treating the world as its own best model and allowing complex behaviors to emerge from the complex interactions of many competing reactive processes. The development of reactive systems, such as those by Brooks’ subsumption architecture, is a useful approach for creating pragmatic systems that behave appropriately in complex and changing environments, especially ones in which any internal representation would be rapidly rendered obsolete.

Reactive systems are, however, closely related to their embodiment and so it is unclear how the approach could be disembodied and adapted to new problem domains in new kinds of sensory modalities (e.g., taking practical hands-on experience in a kitchen and adapting it to answering symbolic questions about recipes) or used in problems that demand prolonged and deliberative cognition (e.g., planning a complex series of actions to achieve a goal).