Brains, Not Trains

Artificial Intelligence: where will it end? Not at the movies!

This month's focus on engineering turned out to be pretty exciting, what with articles on wind tunnels and lasers. We thought we'd put some nice destructive lasers burning through steel (or space shuttles) on our cover, but Brian Gollsneider at the Army Research Lab at Adelphi, Maryland informed me that the lasers with which they work have an 850nm wavelength intended for communication purposes only and are outside the range of human visibility. Being a “journal”, we like to keep our covers realistic and article-related (remember the little man inside the computer on the February 2001 issue?). So we went with the skier.

As Marcel Gagné reminds us in his column this month, engineers have traditionally been conceived as people who drive trains (hence the notion of chemical engineers as those who take drugs and drive trains). But as this month's articles show, most engineers seem to have abandoned internal combustion and moved to other types of engines. Rick Lehrbaum reveals Isamu, a robot with remarkably humanoid abilities for movement. The project is a joint venture between the University of Tokyo's Jouhou System Kougaku (JSK) Laboratory and the Aircraft and Mechanical Systems Division of Kawada Industries, Inc. Professor Hirochika Inoue heads the JSK Lab, and his views are among those of the many roboticists featured in the book, Robo-Sapiens, which documents current robotic projects around the world and speculates as to the future of robo-human relations.

There seems to be three schools of thought among roboticists concerning this future: robots will surpass humans in intelligence and ability, robots will never approach humans or humans themselves will become increasingly robotic.

One particularly impressive project highlighted in the book is DB (Dynamic Brain) of the Kawato Dynamic Brain Project at Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute near Kyoto, Japan. The DB robot is used by neurophysicists who work with the robot to learn more about the functioning of the human brain. The scary thing about DB is it learns, not through programming, but by watching and mimicking the movements of humans. It's already learned to balance objects and juggle better than its instructors. There is one glimmer of hope however, at the book's press time, it still couldn't dance very well.

If the future should bring robots superior to humans, let's hope they run Linux—perhaps running open-source software will make them more inclined to share the earth with their inferior humanoid cousins.

______________________

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Trains not brains

Anonymous's picture

On the day the God was handing out brains, he went up to this guy and asked him if he wanted it and the guy said "No, I don't like choo choos."

Webinar
One Click, Universal Protection: Implementing Centralized Security Policies on Linux Systems

As Linux continues to play an ever increasing role in corporate data centers and institutions, ensuring the integrity and protection of these systems must be a priority. With 60% of the world's websites and an increasing share of organization's mission-critical workloads running on Linux, failing to stop malware and other advanced threats on Linux can increasingly impact an organization's reputation and bottom line.

Learn More

Sponsored by Bit9

Webinar
Linux Backup and Recovery Webinar

Most companies incorporate backup procedures for critical data, which can be restored quickly if a loss occurs. However, fewer companies are prepared for catastrophic system failures, in which they lose all data, the entire operating system, applications, settings, patches and more, reducing their system(s) to “bare metal.” After all, before data can be restored to a system, there must be a system to restore it to.

In this one hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for better disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible bare-metal recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.

Learn More

Sponsored by Storix