Nano Guide: Artificial Intelligence 101
Artificial intelligence: from Skynet to the very intuitive computer systems of the Star Trek universe, AI has played a very strong role in modern pop-culture. IBM’s jeopardy-winning Watson is one of the most advanced forms of AI humanity has created to date and we are constantly pushing ourselves to make better and smarter machines. The holy grail of computer science is to make an artificially intelligent computer, to give it “the spark of life” - but, what does this mean? What is artificial intelligence?
To learn more about this concept, and what many believe is the future of robotics, see: http://www.fromquarkstoquasars.com/nano-guide-artificial-intelligence-101/
Conceptual AI artwork, “Earth to Universe,” by Donato Giancola
With Evolved Brains, Robots Creep Closer To Animal-Like Learning
The most nightmare-inducing characteristic of Big Dog, DARPA’s robotic military mule, might be the way it moves so stiffly, yet unrelentingly, over treacherous battleground. Turns out the repetitive mechanical gait that calls to mind some coming robopocalypse is also a huge headache for Big Dog’s makers—and lots of the big thinkers behind walking bots envisioned for everyday domestic use.
Units like Big Dog move so awkwardly because of their rudimentary brains, which require pre-programming for every little action. A four-legged walking bot could jump smoothly over rocks or weave through trees with the fluid grace and reflexes of a cheetah—if it only had a better brain. One that was more animal-like. Thanks to breakthroughs in understanding how biological brains evolve, a team of robotic researchers say they’re close.
“We are working on evolving brains that can be downloaded onto a robot, wake up, and begin exploring their environment to figure out how to accomplish the high-level objectives we give them (e.g. avoid getting damaged, find recharging stations, locate survivors, pick up trash, etc.),” says Jeffrey Clune, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Wyoming, who is part of the robotics team.