Surprise versus unsurprise: Implications of emergence in robotics

Edmund M.A. Ronald, Moshe Sipper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


We examine the eventual role of surprise in two domains of human endeavor: classical engineering and what we call "emergent engineering", with examples relevant to the field of robotics. Placing ourselves within the formal framework of the recently proposed "emergence test", we argue that the element of surprise, central in the test, serves to illuminate a fundamental difference between industrial and autonomous robots: unsurprise is demanded of classically engineered automation, while a mild form of surprise - unsurprising surprise - must of necessity be tolerated in biologically inspired systems, including behavior-based robotics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-24
Number of pages6
JournalRobotics and Autonomous Systems
Issue number1
StatePublished - 31 Oct 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial neural networks
  • Emergence test
  • Emergent engineering
  • Evolutionary robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Mathematics (all)
  • Computer Science Applications


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