Paul Bello, ONR

Paul Bello, ONR


In this talk, I argue that understanding and modeling the human learning process requires both teacher and student to make inferences about the contents of each other's minds during the learning process. On this view, learning is fundamentally bound up in the human capacity for social cognition.  Using a few simple examples, I attempt to identify some of the more interesting phenomena that typify socially-guided learning and draw out the implications for those wishing to model the learning process using the tools of AI and computational cognitive science.  In the second part of the talk, I begin to develop a cognitively plausible theory of reasoning about other minds, especially about the various states of knowledge or ignorance that other agents can be in.  In particular, I explore the central role of mental simulation in understanding the minds of others, and sketch out computational models of simple examples drawn from the psychological literature.  Finally, I conclude with a discussion of progress-to-date and lay out a series of possible directions for future work.


My interests lie at the interface of philosophy of mind, computation, and social cognition. I'm particularly fascinated by the human capacity to detach from the real world in order to consider the past, possible futures, pretenses, hypotheticals, counterfactual alternatives, and the contents of other minds. Most of my research is focused on building computational accounts of mental-state ascription that are consistent with developmental, behavioral, and neuropsychological data. I also spend considerable time applying these models to related topics in higher-level cognition; most especially to cognitive models of human moral judgment.


I received my bachelors of science in Computer and Systems Engineering with a dual major in Philosophy from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1999. I stayed on at RPI and completed my M.S. in Computer Science in 2001, and received the Ph.D. in Cognitive Science in 2005 under the supervision of Selmer Bringsjord. In the fall of 2002, I was hired as a research computer scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Information Directorate in Rome, NY. While at Rome, I worked on projects involving nonmonotonic reasoning about obligations, and the interplay of cognitive and affective factors during strategic reasoning. In May of 2007 I joined the Office of Naval Research as a Program Officer in the Warfighter Performance and Protections Department. My portfolio spans a wide range of basic research in computational cognition and artificial intelligence. Specific foci include technologies for rich inference over multi-representational data, natural language dialogue, socially-guided learning in human-robot teams, and the cognitive science of moral judgment.

Cognitive Foundations for a Computational Theory of Mindreading

Pretense and cognitive Architecture