"Will I dream?" SAL asks Dr. Chandra in 2010: Space Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clark. Chandra replies "Of course you will. All intelligent beings dream. Nobody knows why... Perhaps you will dream about HAL - as I often do."
In his recent paper What Do Robots Dream Of, Dr. Christoph Adami, Professor of Applied Life Sciences at the Keck Graduate Institute, mirrors the science-fiction of 2010 speculating that a robot might need "down time" just like humans do.
Recent Research on human dreaming indicates that more than just subconscious entertainment is going on. Sleep appears to help us work through and understand events of the day. Sleep also seems to provide a mechanism for impressing important memories on the brain, to make sure we have a long-term record of an event or concern. Sleep also seems to have a role in learning a skill; people who practiced a skill and then slept on it were more skillful than those who had not yet had a chance to sleep.
Dr. Adami speculates that a "robot would spend the day exploring part of the landscape, and perhaps be stymied by an obstacle. At night, the robot would replay its actions and infer a model of the environment. Armed with this model, it could think of—that is, synthesize—actions that would allow it to overcome the obstacle, perhaps trying out those in particular that would best allow it to understand the nature of the obstacle. Informally, then, the robot would dream up strategies for success and approach the morning with fresh ideas."
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