econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 29 December 2015

How We Built A Robot That Can Evolve And Why It Won't Take Over The World

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Fumiya Iida, University of Cambridge

The latest research on robots is often described as if it were a step on the inexorable march toward a robot apocalypse straight out of the Terminator films. While there are risks in developing artificial intelligence that need to be taken seriously, reacting to every development in robotics with undue fear could stifle research and creativity.

For example, creating artificial intelligence that can design future versions of itself - effectively a robot that can reproduce and evolve - might help us discover innovations that humans might not consider on their own. It would need to be carefully monitored and controlled but, rather than something to fear, it could lead us to a greater understanding of the physical world and our own development.

Unnatural selection

Using artificial intelligence to improve a design by repeatedly copying it and adding a small change each time (iterative design) is not a novel approach, but it has so far been restricted to computer simulations. By modelling a group of lifeforms that can reproduce, you can simulate a process that's similar to the natural selection of real biological evolution. The individuals that are most successful are more likely to reproduce and spread their own particular design. So after a number of generations you will eventually have an optimised version of the lifeform that a human designer may not have come across on their own.

Computer simulations of natural selection and evolution come with a series of advantages. Theoretically, the only limit to the number of generations and how fast they are produced is the computer's speed. Models without promise can be easily discarded while potentially fruitful designs can be explored rapidly. And there is no need for a large supply of raw materials because computer memory is abundant, cheap, and takes up very little space.

The problem is that the simulated lifeforms may bear little resemblance to what can exist in the real world. Physical robots that can actually be built, meanwhile, are traditionally stuck in one shape for their entire lifecycle.

Robobabies. Fumiya Iida, Author provided

To overcome these issues, my colleagues and I have built a "mother" robot that can manufacture its own "children" without human intervention, as reported recently in PLOS One. We programmed it to produce simple robots, comprised of between one and five plastic cubes with a small motor inside, which are capable of crawling. The children are then autonomously tested to see which designs perform best.

Based on these results, the mother then produced a second generation using principles based on natural selection. It used the "virtual DNA" of the best first-generation children as a starting point for its designs in order to pass down preferential traits. The process was repeated hundreds of times and eventually the fittest individuals in the last generation performed a set locomotion task twice as quickly as the fittest individuals in the first generation.

The mother of invention

By allowing the mother to restlessly create hundreds of new shapes and gait patterns for her children, she produced designs that a human engineer might not have been able to build. The most interesting and important thing about this is that she effectively demonstrated creativity.

Unlike conventional mechanical systems such as packaging robots in factories, which repeat the same motions programmed by humans, our mother robot was able to autonomously construct children without influence by human designers. As a result, she can "invent" novel designs.

At the moment the children are too simple and restricted to become mothers themselves, so we don't have a complete copy of natural evolution. As the technology advances, however, there's no reason why this couldn't happen in the future.

Blocks of life. Fumiya Iida, Author provided

But isn't it too dangerous to have robots evolving by themselves? We believe not. The aim of our research is to engineer the underlying mechanisms of creativity. We wanted to know how machines can handle unknown objects, how new ideas and designs can emerge from a statistical process, and how much time, energy, raw materials and other resources are needed to create anything truly novel.

The robot children created so far have given us some surprises with unique designs and motions that human engineers would be unlikely to consider in the first instance. But engineering is a bottom-up process to build up technology piece-by-piece by understanding why and how things work. So unlike biological creatures, our evolving robots are still, and will always be, within our expected boundaries and control.

The ConversationFumiya Iida, Lecturer in mechatronics, University of Cambridge

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.



You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.





Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
The Theory of the Monetary Circuit: A Critique
The Expected Effects of Petitions to Improve the Monetary System
News Blog
Trust In Mass Media Erodes
Shimon Peres Was An Israeli Nationalist First And A Peacemaker Second
Guessing Game: Valuations Of Trump's Fortune
What We Read Today 29 September 2016
This Mushroom Starts Killing You Before You Even Realize It
August 2016 Median Household Income Has Declined From The Beginning Of The Year
August 2016 Pending Home Sales Index Declines?
24 September 2016 Initial Unemployment Claims: Rolling Averages Continue to Improve.
Third Estimate 2Q2016 GDP Revised Upward. Corporate Profits Down.
The Terrorist Networks At Our Fingertips
Infographic Of The Day: Dubai Interesting Statistics And Facts
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Up, Oil Surges, OPEC Cuts Production, Student Loan Woes Mount, Trump Still Close, Aleppo Hospitals Bombed, Huge Wind Storm In Oz And More
The World's Most Sustainable Cities
Investing Blog
Investing.com Technical Summary 29 September 2016
Will Deutsche Bank Survive?
Opinion Blog
First: 'Over-Population End-of Times' Now: 'Shrinking Population Disaster'
The Federal Reserve Note
Precious Metals Blog
Where Silver Prices Are Headed Now After Fed's Latest Inaction
Live Markets
29Sep2016 Market Close: Wall Street Bracing For Major Turn Down If German Bank Fails, Crude Prices Rise Towards 50 Handle And US Dollar Showing New Strength
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government



Crowdfunding ....






























 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved