Japanese Scientists Unveil Thinking, Learning Robot

| 11 Aug 2011 18:48

In an effort to remove the one advantage mankind has over our mechanical underlings, Japanese researchers have created a robot capable of human-like problem solving.

Created by the Tokyo Institute of Technology's Hasegawa Group, the 'bot uses a Self-Organizing Incremental Neural Network (SOINN) to learn from its past experiences. It can then apply this accumulated "knowledge" to future occurences, and work out the best way to approach problems or react to external stimuli.

If that sounds familiar, it's because that's exactly how human memory and cognition works.

The YouTube clip at right shows the 'bot in action as its creators put it through a test of its abilities. DigInfo TV explains:

In this experiment the robot will solve a problem by deciding what actions it should take and in what order. The robot will be told to pour a glass of water, make it cold, and give it to a person. The robot will decide how to do this while being aware of its surroundings and its own situation.

If the robot is told that cold water is wanted, it recognizes that after pouring the water, it can't pick up ice straight away, because it's hands are already full with the glass and the bottle. So it chooses to put the bottle down, and then put the ice into the glass.

As well as the robot's sensory information, in the form of visual, auditory, and tactile data, SOINN obtains information from other sources, including the Internet and other robots' experiences and knowledge. In this way, it gradually becomes smarter.

Even with the handy explanation above, I highly recommend you watch that clip. There's something incredibly eerie to watching a construct explore its nascent understanding of the world around it, even before you dip into alarmist predictions of the impending robot uprising.

Though leaping into that cliché would be the obvious route for this article, I will instead point out the myriad opportunities this technology presents. Or, at least I would, if I thought any of you had a few hundred days to read through all of that. This is the kind of tech that fuels Philip K. Dick stories, and we're witnessing its birth in real-time.

Savor the feeling, ladies and gentlemen. You'll need that innate hope when the metal ones come for you.

Source: DigInfo TV

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