Artificial Intelligence... A theory but no answer

Over the past couple of decades much work, and progress, has been made in the pursuit of creating artificial minds and lifelike humanoid movement. Researchers from many different nations have experimented with recreating realistic human characteristics - with some success. Honda's humanoid robot ASIMO leads the way in mobility, the 120 cm high robot has already mastered the complicated balancing act required when walking, running and jumping and it can safely navigate around random objects. ASIMO is also capable of recognising people and faces and greets people accordingly, he can also move where indicated and recognise his name. A remarkable machine no doubt, but ASIMO is not truly intelligent.

Work has also been done on facial recognition robots, these complex cameras are capable of recognising people and emotions and copying or reacting to facial stimuli. But, again these robots are merely fullfilling their programmers desires. However the technology being developed here is important to future more complicated robots, these robots will be capable of decision making, reasoning and spontaneity and even genuine humor amongst other 'human' traits.

Artificially intelligent robots in my personal and unqualified opinion, and it is just that, an opinion, should be programmed by trial and error and by example, exactly as humans and animals learn. The only things that are man made are the separate components.

The eyes for example, complicated recognition cameras, already in development, able to recognise color, depth, movement, speed, and light and then by using the technology being developed with the facial recognition robots the central processor is capable of sorting images into order of priority for its given task or situation the priority will be changing from second to second.

Imagine walking down a busy street your eyes are constantly scanning and checking your path is clear, while also trying to determine which store you are going to go into next, and you are also looking out for someone you know. Each second has its own priority do you side step to the left or right? sometimes you get it wrong, or others, and you bump into people, errors are a part of human life. Why not use the same principle with robots?

Example Scenario
The mobility and human appearance of the robot in question need not be great, however that is the simplest part, and will likely be far more advanced than the first artificial brain. The learning process should be just like that of a child, someone spends time every day for hours teaching and showing the robot various techniques for life starting with simple colours, shapes and movements like a baby, then moving on to simple interactions and tasks like an infant, before gradually increasing the complexity of the tasks while integrating them into a series of tasks and completing complex maneuvers.

For this example lets say the robot can walk outside easily, he has been shown and guided around the streets for several years and has many experiences and problem solving solutions stored in his memory. He has been shown a chocolate bar and he has been told to go out and buy one from a nearby newsagents. The robot has been shown the outside many times before and he can recognise sidewalks and knows this is safe, however over the years he has also been shown that it is safe to walk on the road to cross if there is no oncoming cars or the traffic is stopped (as well as many other countless variables that can only be learnt with time - growing up, for humans). Lets say he is walking along to buy this chocolate bar and there is road works ahead, he has never seen these particular roadworks before and they are blocking his path, the newsagent is on the same side of the road as him, his options are:

1. He must either walk on the road until he is past the roadworks and then get back on the sidewalk.

2. He can cross the road continue on past the road works and then cross back over to the side with the newsagents.

3. He can turn around and go back, because he is not sure if his trainers (parents) want him walking on the road on his own.

Everyone has made decisions similar to these but we weigh up the pros and cons of each option and hope that the one we choose is the right one. In this case the robot decides that there hasn't been any cars that have gone past him in a long time, something he had remembered in his short term memory bank. So he checks the road and sees there is actually a car approaching he judges its speed by comparing its size to a couple of video frames previously and waits for it to pass. Unfazed, it is only one car, he steps out onto the road, he knows this is a dangerous place but all safety precautions have been taken. He continues along the road staying close to the roadworks, he has seen that is what other people do in similar situations then after a few metres he is past the roadworks and he steps back up onto the sidewalk and continues on to the shop.

On the way he notices that there is a new, closer newsagents which has recently opened since he was last here. He recognised that it was a newsagents because of the A-board sign out in front and various signs on the windows also the small cluttered size of the premises, all clues to a newsagent, and he has recognised various stimuli generally associated with newsagents.

After entering he searches for the chocolate bar, he can remember what that looks like because he was shown it just before and has retained the information for the time being. He finds the chocolate bar and takes it to the counter, he knows this to be the counter because there is a till shaped object with a man facing him. He buys the chocolate bar and walks back the way he came.

Because this was one of his first forays into the world on his own it was a simple task, however many thousands, even millions, of tiny calculations took place. The importance of road safety has been drilled into him for years on end, and this was his most important decision to make. Although he took a more risky course of action it was by all factors quite safe overall, something he has learnt with time and experience.

The recognition factors mentioned are not infallible, however everybody has miscalculated and misjudged at some point in their lives, usually many points. Everybody has walked up to a fellow customer in a store mistaking them for a store worker because their clothes are the same or even there stance is one of a salesperson, not browsing customer. So a mistake here and there is not failure, it just takes time, experience and trial and error to see as many scenarios as possible and remember the successful solution, reviewing similar experiences to find answers to new problems.

Now just the simple matter of building it.

ASIMO helping children cross the road

Facial recognition robot (AP photo)

Robot featured in blockbuster movie I,Robot

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