While some skeptics, such as Apple-cofounder
Steve Wozniak, dismiss artificial intelligence insisting that robots will
never be able to reach a human level of thinking process and behavior, the
reality is that artificial
intelligence is fast approaching human level thought process.
Battlefield robots are making
life and death decisions, and an international panel recently met to discuss
whether robots could be tried for war crimes.
In vehicles, DailyTech witnessed firsthand the GM-sponsored
DARPA robotic driver navigate a complicated course with efficiency matching
or surpassing that of a human. Meanwhile, SRI National works to create
DARPA funded robotic assistants which learn
and organize thoughts in a human-like fashion.
As robots become more and more human-like, we face the duality of the result.
On the one hand, in creating something that is human-like we learn more about
what makes us human; on the other hand, by creating a replica of man, the line
between human and machine becomes more blurry. As we enter the
future, reality in the virtual world and real world is merging into one.
Scientists already demonstrated
the first "mixed reality" systems -- systems in which a virtual
and a real world device were indistinguishable.
Continuing along the path of convergence between biology and the digital world,
researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) are developing complex
artificial intelligence to control characters in the popular online game
Second Life. These characters will be able to have beliefs, distinguish
human and AI characters' beliefs, and manipulate the behaviors of human and AI
characters based on these beliefs.
The team unveiled their first creation, a 4-year old child
avatar dubbed "Eddie", at an AI conference. The avatar not only follows the
aforementioned intelligence goals, developing beliefs, but also behaves
psychologically like a human child. Researcher Selmer Bringsjord explains
the creation process, stating, "Current avatars in massively multiplayer
online worlds — such as Second Life — are directly tethered to a user’s
keystrokes and only give the illusion of mentality. Truly convincing
autonomous synthetic characters must possess memories; believe things, want
things, remember things."
You won't be seeing a character like Eddie walking around on the street for a
little while explains Bringsjord -- Eddie's complex behavior requires the
processing power of a supercomputer. The processing power is leverage to
combine traditional logic-based artificial intelligence with computational
cognitive modeling techniques.
Understanding, predicting, and being capable of manipulating the behavior of
humans is one benchmark of intelligence, and the principles behind how this
works in the human mind is known appropriately as the "theory of
mind". The RPI team's research marks one of the largest efforts to
date to engineer based on the principles of the theory of mind. The
researchers, implementing the part logic and part math theory, impart on the
AI-controlled avatars an understanding of such "human" concepts as
betrayal, revenge, and evil.
Similarly, they employ human-like stages of cognitive development. For
example, Eddie behaves correctly in a false-belief test. In a typical
false belief test a person observers an object, in this case a virtual teddy
bear. When the person leaves the room, another person moves the object to
a different location. Upon the return of the first person to the room,
the adult observer expects them to look in the old location of the object,
knowing that they don't have knowledge of the move. However, a child four
years old or younger will think that they will look in the new location, not
understanding that they couldn't see the move. In an example of a case
where it's right to be wrong, Eddie correctly believed in the "false"
location, the proper "human" behavior for a child.
Eddie can also be digitally switched to have adult-like reasoning and make the
correct decision. The reasoning is accomplished by an automated theorem
prover. An interface takes conversational English in Second Life and
turns it into formal logic, which is processed by the prover. A video
clip of Eddie in action can be viewed
The RPI research is sponsored by IBM. The RPI team's final goal is to
place humans in a Star Trek-like holodeck filled with projected virtual
characters with human-like behavior. The researchers say that they could
accomplish such a simulation in theory by leveraging the processing power of
RPI's Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI) and the
Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC).
With over 100 teraflops of computing power, the CCNI is the most powerful
university supercomputer in the world. It is composed of massively
Gene supercomputers, POWER-based Linux clusters, and AMD
Opteron processor-based clusters. And soon, it may be thinking, just
like humans, if the RPI team continues in its success.