Joint research at the University of Bremen is organized based on six interdisciplinary “High-Profile Areas”. These areas contribute substantially to the impact of scientific research at University of Bremen, and merge research conducted at the university with that of external institutions represented on campus. They form a matrix-type structure that cuts diagonally across all disciplines represented by the twelve faculties at the university.
The High-Profile Area “Minds, Media, Machines” originated from a solid basis in computer science. The conceptual starting point for this area dates back to the DFG-funded interdisciplinary Collaborative Research Centre SFB/TR 8 „Spatial Cognition“ (2003-2014) that studied the acquisition, organization, utilization and revision of knowledge about spatial environments, ranging from human spatial cognition to mobile robot navigation. In 2015, at the end of the maximally possible 12-year funding period for a Collaborative Research Center, it was succeeded by the interdisciplinary Bremen Spatial Cognition Center (BSCC).
Minds, Media, Machines is an interdisciplinary network of researchers at University Bremen and collaborations with other internal and external institutions in Germany. Researchers in these institutions work closely together to enhance our understanding of intelligence, cognition in autonomous agents and teams of agents in the context of mediatized worlds. The insights are then transferred into a new generation of social, computer-based, and cyber-physical systems that make a substantial contribution to the welfare of our society, for example via embodied intelligent systems that are tailored to the users' needs, co-age and support them over their entire lives while keeping the users in full control of their personal data. Towards this aim, scientists in this High-Profile Area investigate human and machine knowledge representation, natural, formal and technical information processing, as well as secure transmission of information and computer-mediated communication.
The High-Profile Area is thus based on three pillars: Minds, Media, and Machines.
Performance of cognitive biological systems, including human cognition, is studied through empirical investigations, analyses and models. What are the building blocks of human cognition and cognitive capacities? How do we orient ourselves in space, and what can be learnt from and about the visual and auditory systems?
What are the roles of sensory-motor, and multimodal information processing, and how are experience and knowledge represented and processed? Further aspects investigated in this area are, i.a., planning of actions of varying degrees of complexity and abstraction, learning to manipulate simple objects, up to speech and comprehension, as well as the study of interactions between a system, its environment, and communication between cognitive systems. Cognitive systems are always understood as being situated in a dynamic context that every investigation has to take into consideration. The knowledge and understanding gained on this basis is applied to develop formal methods and technical systems that aim to come as close as possible to the human case and human abilities.
For example, household robots that are, inspired by biology and cognitive science, able to learn from instructions designed by and for humans, including the ability to learn directly from observing human activities to the point that they can carry out the same tasks autonomously.
Today, individually as well as socially, we live in times of deep mediatization. In our everyday life, we interact with digital media and technical systems, whether we wish to or not. This omnipresent availability of technology constitutes both: new possibilities but also challenges, inter alia due to datafication and increasingly shorter innovation cycles. Media -and communication studies research the consequences of increasingly pervasive digital media and systems on individuals, society, and culture. Computer science is concerned with the processing and analysis of large quantities of data, with media informatics focusing on the design and development of new forms of interaction with digital media. These subjects therefore build the foundation for data science as an emerging new research area. We study these topics, placing people and their needs at the center of our efforts.
The focus of research in this pillar is the development of intelligent technical systems that are able to meet a wide range of challenges. This includes the entire development chain, from the smallest hardware component to a fully functioning robotic system. The development of material-integrated sensorial systems, microelectronics, encoding of information and signal processing, the verification of circuits and systems, up to collaborative communication technologies, is studied here. The robotics research focuses on the development of autonomous systems that are developed for the use in specific scenarios, for example to operate in difficult locations such as the deep sea or Mars. In the area of cyber-physical systems, we furthermore study the cooperation of intelligent networked systems.
The described three pillars Minds, Media and Machines do not stand separately from each other, they mutually support and enrich one another. Thus, cognitive science inspires robotics research to develop new robotic platforms. This in turn stimulates cognitive science to verify cognitive models through simulations. Finally, the analysis of mediatized worlds and the societal consequences of increasing penetration of technology into everyday life with digital media and processing systems of communication and media studies is again taken up in the cognitive sciences, that use these insights into communicative and social conditions for their research.