Interdisciplinary College

Why MINDS advertises the IK

Because it is really one of the most inspiring events one can find, if one is interested in how minds work and MINDS ticks.

Herbert Jaeger has been active in the executive board of the IK since more than a decade, has served as program chair in 2004, 2009 and 2015, and is now an elected speaker of the executive board.

What it always is

The Interdisciplinary College (IK) is an annual, intense one-week spring school which offers a dense state-of-the-art course program in neurobiology, neural computation, cognitive science/psychology, artificial intelligence, robotics and philosophy. Courses include introductions to the main fields of the IK, as well as an in-depth treatment of a focus topic which is changing from year to year, explored in about two dozens of special courses. And last but not least, the IK is a unique social event. In the evenings participants may enjoy the very special atmosphere: minds meet, music is played, and friends are made in long evening and night sessions in the welcoming conference site at Lake Möhne.

What it will be in 2024

The focus theme for the 2024 Interdisciplinary College will be Resilience, Robustness, Responsibility, addressing questions regarding complex systems from the ecological to the social and technological, and their ability to persist, adapt, and transform in the face of internal or external change. Example topics include socio-ecological systems facing climate change, humans undergoing personal crises, societies dealing with our rapidly changing world, and technological systems for ever-evolving environments.

What it was in 2023

The 2023 IK was again taking place fully in-person, on-site in our beloved conference home in Günne in the Sauerland mountains (well, hills). Under the theme Dynamics of Experience – Minds, Bodies, and Things it explored how experience emerges from dynamic processes of bodies, minds, and things. The focus was on the role that physical interaction plays for cognition.

What it was in 2022

The virtual IK 2022 theme was Flexibility, from the perspective of the nervous system, the mind, communication, and AI & robotics. Flexibility can be interpreted as mental flexibility, physical flexibility (including dance improvisation), neuroplasticity, and adaptive artificial systems. 28 lecturers from a wide range of backgrounds filled this theme with life, ranging from clinical psychology to robotics to science communication or Tibetan monastic debate.

What it was in 2021

The virtual IK 2021 took place under the motto Connected in Cyberspace, providing a virtual conference venue to connect in spite of the pandemic. Three aspects of the motto provided inspiration for scientific contributions: cyberspaces, i.e. spatial metaphors for things that are non-spatial; cybernetic organisms, i.e. system models of organisms and agents; and cybernetworks, i.e. models of interconnectedness, from graph theory over epidemiological models to the embedding of technology in society.

What it was in 2020

The IK 2020 investigated the theme of how Curiosity, Risk & Reward are shaping autonomous intelligence, both individual and social. Curiosity, risk and reward are fundamental for long-term learning and development, are basis and cause conflict for decision-making, contribute to creative curiosity in AI systems, and facilitate participatory behaviour patterns in societies. Due to COVID-19, this IK could only be offered in an online version, which however was taken as a challenging incentive to consider online components for future IKs.

What it was in 2019

The IK 2019 (March 12-19, 2019) focused on the theme Out of Your Senses: From Data to Insight. This IK explored how data in many forms can be processed to yield condensed and insightful information. An emphasis was be placed on senses, sensors, and the evaluation of the resulting data: Basic and methods courses in biology, computer science, philosophy, and engineering will be complemented by sessions on data analysis, sensor technology, biological sensory systems, and the interplay of sensing with self and society.


What it was in 2018

The 2018 edition of the IK focussed on the theme Me, my Self, and I and addresses questions such as: Who am I? Where is my self? What is it like to be me? In doing so, courses addressed different aspects of self models, self perception, and self consciousness using different epistemic and theoretical approaches in a truly interdisciplinary fashion.

What it was in 2017

The 2017 edition of the IK explored the focus theme Creativity and Intelligence in Brains and Machines. While creativity often starts out on an individual basis, and creative acts are ultimately implemented by individuals, society very often enables creativity to happen either in making creative individuals collaborate, or giving rise to a genuinely collective creative process.

What it was in 2016

The 2016 edition of the IK explored the focus theme Transitions and Transformations in Cognition, Biology, and Interactive Systems. It addressed questions like, When does a group of cells become an organism, or a group of organisms become a society? How do natural systems survive and adapt to changing external environments? How do humans change in individual and social function as they age?

What it was in 2015

The 2015 edition of the IK, themed Integration of Behavior and Cognition, cast its focus on complete, autonomous agents - animals, humans, robots, and software characters. An extensive offering of courses was grouped under the perspectives of "Complete Cognitive Architectures", "Person, Identity, Dignity", "Engineering Agents", "Neurons, Muscles, Bodies", and "Language and Thought".

What it was in 2014

The 2014 edition of the IK was devoted to the focus theme Cognition 3.0 – the Social Mind in the Connected World. The event provided an interdisciplinary view of social and interactive approaches to cognition. “Social minds” courses discussed the basic cognitive prerequisites for social interaction ; “social interaction” courses addressed topics like joint action coordination, empathy, adaptation and alignment; and “groups and social systems” courses covered swarm intelligence, wisdom of the crowds, and social media.

What it was in 2013

The2013 edition of the IK was devoted to the focus theme Wicked Problems, Complexity and Wisdom. It presented research on wisdom, complex problem solving, system complexity, decision support, and complex planning both theoretical and practical. The main focus was on how to model and to explain the human capacity to create and solve complex problems from different disciplinary perspectives.

What it was in 2012

The 2012 edition of the IK was devoted to the focus theme Emotion and Aesthetics. Specific courses addressed the neural correlates of emotion and aesthetics, the influence of emotions on behavior and motivation, and psychological and neurobiological approaches to music and film. There were also courses on "affective computing", a quickly developing field of AI and robotics research.

What it was in 2011

The 2011 edition of the IK was devoted to the focus theme Autonomy, Decisions and Free Will. Courses addressed topics such as the philosophy and neuroscience of free will, cognitive models of decision making, rationality and heuristics, intentional agents and BDI systems, interdisciplinary approaches to volition, intentions, control, self-regulation and task scheduling.

What it was before 2011

The first IK took place 1997. A pdf overview of all IKs with all courses ever given there can be downloaded from the IK website.