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Post 2 made on Saturday November 18, 2006 at 19:13
Loyal Member
April 2006
Thread HiJack :

This is in response to your sig:


Robot, heal thyself -- welcome to the future

It's an achievement that inspires notions of robots with consciousness and independent minds. News 10026571-0 (

Scientists said on Thursday they created a brainy, four-legged robot resembling a starfish that can sense damage to its body and, on its own, think up a way to recover. News 10026571-1 (

Researchers Hod Lipson and Victor Zykov of Cornell University and Josh Bongard of the University of Vermont made a robot that observed its own motion using built-in sensors in its joints and then generated its own concept of itself, or at least its physical structure, in its internal computer. News 10026571-2 (

It used this internal model of itself to figure out how to walk on its four legs and eight motorized joints. News 10026571-3 (

"In the beginning, the robot starts off and does not know what it looks like. You look at it, and you see that it's a four-legged machine. But the robot itself doesn't know that. All it knows is that it could be a snake, it could be a tree, it could have six legs," Lipson said in an interview. News 10026571-4 (

Lipson said the robot used various movements of its joints, first to generate hypotheses and then to formulate an accurate conception of itself. News 10026571-5 (

The researchers then tested the robot's ability to adapt to new situations -- in this case injury -- by shortening one of its legs. "The robot knows something's wrong," Lipson said. News 10026571-6 (

Animals can compensate for injury by changing movements, like limping to favor an injured leg. Machines can be programmed to react to a problem in a certain way. But when they are damaged in unexpected ways, they usually are doomed. News 10026571-7 (

This plucky robot responded by generating on its own a new concept of its structure, accurately sensing it had been altered, and then devising a new way to walk using a different gait to compensate for the injury. News 10026571-8 (

The robot's smarts, awareness of itself and ability to adapt on its own separates it from its mechanical brethren. News 10026571-9 (

The study was published in the journal "Science." News 10026571-10 (

'THINKING ABOUT ITSELF' News 10026571-11 (

"We don't really think this is self-consciousness, which is a robot thinking about itself thinking," Lipson said. "But I do think it is moving in the direction of consciousness, like a cat, that kind of level." News 10026571-12 (

Aside from contributing to a philosophical debate, the research has practical implications -- giving hope to people who envision sending robots that can adapt to unforeseen circumstances to explore other worlds or the ocean floor. News 10026571-13 (

"There is a need for planetary robotic rovers to be able to fix things on their own," Bongard said in a statement. "Robots on other planets must be able to continue their mission without human intervention in the event they are damaged and cannot communicate their problem back to Earth." News 10026571-14 (

Christoph Adami of the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences in Claremont, California, wrote a commentary accompanying the research titled, "What Do Robots Dream Of?" -- an allusion to science fiction writer Philip Dick's 1968 novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" News 10026571-15 (

Adami described how a robot like this one might perform in unknown territory, exploring the landscape and then "dreaming" of new methods to overcome obstacles it had encountered. News 10026571-16 (

"And even though the robots ... seem to prefer to dream about themselves rather than electric sheep, they just may have unwittingly helped us understand what dreams are for," he said. News 10026571-17 (

Reminded of malicious robots and computers turning on their human masters in movies like "The Terminator" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," Lipson was not worried. News 10026571-18 (

"We just pull the plug out of the robot. That's all," Lipson said. "There are more immediate things to worry about than to worry about that." News 10026571-19 (
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