The ability to recognize and categorize entities in its environment is a vital competence of any cognitive system. Reasoning about the current state of the world, assessing consequences of possible actions, as well as planning future episodes requires a concept of the roles that objects and places may possibly play. For example, objects afford to be used in specific ways, and places are usually devoted to certain activities. The ability to represent and infer these roles, or, more generally, categories, from sensory observations of the world, is an important constituent of a cognitive system’s perceptual processing (Section 1.3 elaborates on this with a very visual example).
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