Is Robot Evolution Mirroring the Evolution of Life?

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March 26, 2008

Is Robot Evolution Mirroring the Evolution of Life?

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“I see a strong parallel between the evolution of robot intelligence and the biological intelligence that preceded it. The largest nervous systems doubled in size about every fifteen million years since the Cambrian explosion 550 million years ago. Robot controllers double in complexity (processing power) every year or two. They are now barely at the lower range of vertebrate complexity, but should catch up with us within a half century."

Hans Moravec,  pioneer in mobile robot researcher and founder of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.

According toMoravec, our robot creations are evolving similar to how life on Earth evolved, only at warp speed. By his calculations, by mid-century no human task, physical or intellectual, will be beyond the scope of robots.

Here is a summary of his educated predictions for the future of robotics up until they can do everything we can do:

2010: A first generation of broadly-capable "universal robots" will emerge. The “servant” robots, will be able to run application programs for many simple chores. These machines will have mental power and inflexible behavior analogous to small reptiles.

2015: Utility robots host programs for several tasks. Larger "Utility Robots" with manipulator arms able to run several different programs to perform different tasks may follow single-purpose home robots. Their tens of billion calculation per second computers would support narrow inflexible competences, perhaps comparable to the skills of an amphibian, like a frog.

2020: Universal robots host programs for most simple chores. Larger machines with manipulator arms and the ability to perform several different tasks may follow, culminating eventually in human-scale "universal" robots that can run application programs for most simple chores. Their tens of billion calculation per second lizard-scale minds would execute application programs with reptilian inflexibility.

2030: Robot competence will become comparable to larger mammals. In the decades following the first universal robots, a second generation with mammallike brainpower and cognitive ability will emerge. They will have a conditioned learning mechanism, and steer among alternative paths in their application programs on the basis of past experience, gradually adapting to their special circumstances. A third generation will think like small primates and maintain physical, cultural and psychological models of their world to mentally rehearse and optimize tasks before physically performing them. A fourth, humanlike, generation will abstract and reason from the world model.

If Moravec is correct in his predictions, if won’t be long before robots have cognition. With daily breakthroughs happening in the robotic community—it may happen even sooner. Not only will they be able to think autonomously, but robot intelligence and capabilities would equal (and most likely quickly surpass) any human capability.

That likely possibility begs the question, what happens when robots are superior to their creators? Will they still be subservient to us, or will the popular “robot takeover” of sci-fi movies become reality? I love robots as much as the next geek, but maybe we need some sort of plan for when they stop loving us…

On the other hand, others believe that it is humans who will evolve into advanced “robots”. Their belief is that with futuristc technologies being developed in multiple fields, human intelligence may eventually be able to “escape its ensnarement in biological tissue” and be able to move freely across boundaries that can’t support flesh and blood—while still retaining our identities. That idea seems much further away, but whatever the case may be—there are changes ahead.

Posted by Rebecca Sato.

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Comments

NO NO NO evolution must not have a "creator" it must not involve intelligence and design checking the brain at the door is necessary either for evolution or creation BUT NOT BOTH.

I'm not sure what you mean there v-man. Mankind has evolved as we understand it, naturally. There is no rational evidence for design, but evolution does not speak to how life began or how the universe began per se. It's just irrational to propose something like an intelligence and a design process (of ANYTHING) without a supporting, or supportable hypothesis. I believe that is sort of what you are getting at. This article doesn't bother to point out the obvious though: that the evolution of the robot is indeed through design. Whether the use of the word by the author has a concealed purpose or not is not wholly obvious either.... but he should know better.

Just a thought though... say that in 5000 years the following scenario has come to pass: robot 'life' is the dominant life form in our solar system and the human species no longer exists. Though we had a hand in the development of this new life form, might they not think that it was a natural or perhaps inevitable progression of 'intelligence'?

Oh..........Is Robot Evolution Mirroring the Evolution of Life?

No

This is pretty interesting stuff.. It makes you wonder if the benefits are worth it in the long scheme of things... What if it all turned out to be like the movie iRobot?

dude that is ridiculous, programs act because they are programmed. They dont learn anything from it, its not like they're little kids yearning for informaition. You know total crap and your 'Expertsie' is laughable. They said that robots would take over in 2000, then 2010, First off, we limit what they can do, and when we enhance what they can do,

This is a reasonable argument for AI development, but seems to overlook the more practical physical restriction on robot distribution. They can already be made plenty smart, but affordable, mass produced, constantly active, long lasting armatures have not yet been developed.

Robots do not in any way mirror biological evolution since there is no external selection pressure imposed on these mechanical populations. Organisms either adapt or die and this is largely based on reproductive success. Selection dictates which entities are successful enough to pass along their genes--encoding beneficial traits (deleterious ones are swiftly removed as carriers die)-- to subsequent generations. Since robots do not reproduce, they cannot evolve-- at least, not in the Darwinian sense. If anything, this comparison further confuses the issue for ID proponents who are already quite confused enough! Darwinian evolution relies on successful replication (and the passage of genetic traits) whereas creationism relies on the manipulations and whims of a magical deity... or a "creative" robotic engineer (just thought we should nip that in the bud straight away!). ;)

Percentage of predictions about the future that have come true to date: 0.000000000000000001%.

On the otherhand, there IS a form of natural selection at work here: the good designs are generally the ones that are adopted by robot-developers and the bad ones (the thousands of designs that we DON'T see) are burried by the presence of the better designs. When a better design comes along, the old design is replaced (most of the time).

For those of you that bring programming into the picture such as Jeff F. please research "Blue Brain" it is theoretically possible to spawn a machine that will be able to have all of the cognitive function of man. I suppose you could program it not to perform certain tasks however one could also not inhibit its behavior. As for evolution (in the sense of Darwin), Heather nailed it: no reproduction = no evolution, though if these robots have more cognitive function than we do then they might be able to engineer a better system. Perhaps a directional one that would only give traits that are better than the previous (unlike evolution which is not directional). Needless to say robot evolution cannot mirror human evolution.

It won't happen like this, brain simulation will be tried and tested in virtual worlds inside the computer and will get to a high level of behaviour and function quickly within the virtual worlds through training software which trains the learning systems. From our perspective the transition from no robot to intelligent robot will happen at a tipping point, and will happen suddenly, not slowly as suggested.
One day it will be 2020 with not many robots, then it will be 2025 with lots of robots doing very highly intelligent things.
There's no slow transitions for technology, just tipping point.
Remember mobile phones? Remember PC's? Its all like that.

Why is this not possible?

Though humans DID create robots, they are capable of processing far more info at far greater speeds than we can.

In addition, those who think they can't "learn" are forgetting the reasons why we "learn" things.

We have experiences. Experiences teach us likes, dislikes, pain, pleasure, etc.

Wait till robots have pain & pleasure receptors like humans!

Then, what will keep them from deciding, I like this because it feels good?

Think, people, think!

Not as far out as you imagine!

yay!, flying cars article.

Artificial Intelligence is going to inevitably surpass our own. We just need to find a safe way to let this happen so that we can maintain our lifestyle and freedom we're used to.

You had me at "...The largest nervous systems doubled in size about every fifteen million years since the Cambrian explosion 550 million years ago..."

So they were 2^36 = 68 Billion times larger?

Oh, petty details! Why get bogged down with rigor and correctness when your masturbating to Star Wars? Robots will turn into these super-sentient C3PO's and personally, I can't wait. Oh, except, everyone who's made that prediction has been wrong. Damn.

I predict 500 years before we have the AI equivalent of a cockroach. I studied AI at CMU and Moravec is a nut case. All these top-down AI guys wash over the complexities at the chemical level. There is still no accurate simulation of a SINGLE NEURON to date at the bio-chemical level.

daidu42,

You're right to criticize this, but let's keep our facts straight.

The Blue Brain project, while not developing an accurate simulation of a _human_ neuron, has created an accurate simulation of an entire rat cortical column.

That's nothing to easily dismiss.

Oh! But I'm so impressed by daidu42's obvious intelligence! Let him carry on. Don't you just love someone who has to show everyone how smart he is by running something down??

~~~(RebeccaSato.com:)~~~
"With a university degree in behavioral science and years of marketing and writing experience, I know the difference between copy that just "sounds nice", and copy that will actually compel your clients to take action.
~~~(end cut)~~~
Everyone should take this for what it is, a good dose of Science Fiction.

Now, everyone go off and google up "The Singularity," that stuff I had to put up with in a college course.

EVOLUTION...

Its simply ridiculous to say 'oh theyre upgrading at such a great speed, of course they'll be smarter for us'

We PROGRAM them.. If you think that intelligence is how many calculations per second it can do, then you're about as smart as a door mat.... IF somehow we could program individuality into a computer.. SOMEHOW SIMULATING THE HUMAN BRAIN INTO CODE (by the way the most mysterious thing composed of so many nearve endings and we know absolutely 0.01% about) That would require us to 100% know about the human brain and what does what... EVEN THEN, we would have to PROGRAM it into code... SOMEHOW. THHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEENNNN AI has a chance to 'TAKE OVER ZOMG'

Posted by: Philip Andrew | March 26, 2008 at 11:58 PM

1. Why is this not possible?

2. Though humans DID create robots, they are capable of processing far more info at far greater speeds than we can.

3. In addition, those who think they can't "learn" are forgetting the reasons why we "learn" things.

4. We have experiences. Experiences teach us likes, dislikes, pain, pleasure, etc.

5. Wait till robots have pain & pleasure receptors like humans!

6. Then, what will keep them from deciding, I like this because it feels good?

7. Think, people, think!

8.Not as far out as you imagine!


Guy.. Where to begin...
1. Its not possible because we have to program them to have individual thoughts.

2. Processing information and INDIVIDUAL thoughts are two completely different things.

3,4. They dont have experience/learn. They have code and act upon what is within it..

5. Oh i cant wait..

6. Code will make them keep them from deciding whether they like or dislike something... Assuming that some kind of code exists for them to have individuality and free thought.... That, or a random choice generator.

7 & 8. Obviously you have put a lot of thought into this.. Its quite possibly more far out than we can possibly imagine.

Posted by: lawliet | March 27, 2008 at 06:31 AM

You had me at "...The largest nervous systems doubled in size about every fifteen million years since the Cambrian explosion 550 million years ago..."

So they were 2^36 = 68 Billion times larger?

Oh, petty details! Why get bogged down with rigor and correctness when your masturbating to Star Wars? Robots will turn into these super-sentient C3PO's and personally, I can't wait. Oh, except, everyone who's made that prediction has been wrong. Damn.

I predict 500 years before we have the AI equivalent of a cockroach. I studied AI at CMU and Moravec is a nut case. All these top-down AI guys wash over the complexities at the chemical level. There is still no accurate simulation of a SINGLE NEURON to date at the bio-chemical level.


-Amen brother!

This is nice & interesting, but just creating a model & plugging facts into the model then uploading / downloading it into a cybernetic brain won't make a future robot more like an organism, human or otherwise. A. I. programming is very convincing, & there are programs & robots who could pass the Turing test with flying colours, but if human creators just toss a bunch of data at a robot / robotic entity it won't become a truly independent, intelligent being, it needs some " real - world " experiences.

There's a whole lotta anthropomorphizing goin' on.....

Keeping all this in mind, I think it's going to be a while before we see any C - 3P0's, Cmdr. Data's, Marias, a " Red Tornado ", " Metal Men ", Cybermen, etc.

I predict that it's more feasible that human flesh will truly intermesh with circuitry & motors to create cyborgs a la " RoboCop " or " Ghost in The Shell ", as opposed to machines becoming independent of us. We're taking the 1st steps towards bionic people now.

Redsai, you're pathetic. The author of this article never claimed to be an AI expert and merely summarized and quoted what actual AI experts are saying. I found the article to be fascinating. The Daily Galaxy is an eclectic mix of lots of different topics of interest. You can criticize the founder of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute if you want (but something tells me that he knows more about robotics than you do). Most writers, however, have multiple areas of expertise, so for you to criticize the author for having a degree in Behavioral Science just shows how petty and pathetic you are. If Ms Sato were claiming to be an AI expert, that would be one thing, but to require every writer to have a degree in every topic they research and write about is absurd and impractical.

You took the words out of my mouth N. Fort. As for daidu12 posing as anonymous to pat himself on the head....it's not necessary to jump in and post in an angry contemptuous fashion if you are confident in the beliefs you hold. You don't need to be condescending with your obvious superiority (complex)... unless of course you really DON'T know everything?

I've got no expertise in this at all, but maybe someone could enlighten me? If technology is advancing exponentially, surely we won't have to design a robot that is as or more intelligent than humans. All we have to do is reach a level where a program is able to "reproduce"; that is, able to analyse itself and create another, better program, or update itself and the program will "evolve" from there? As I say I don't have any expertise here so I can't put it across as well as I might, but I'm sure you see what I'm asking.

the real question is
is it possible to create hardware capable of running with a small amount of code but not limited by it ?

yes we program those things, but the article talks about hardware yet to be invented, and supposes this hardware will be like human brains, capable of having contradictions

"normal" robots are already here. simple cpus running unmodifiable code to do simple tasks
but i dont think that making this cpus and code bigger and complex, cognition will just "poof" out of nowhere to kill us or to take us to the death star

in the way this article compares evolution of a man made apparatus to life enables me to compare the evolution of cars to human evolution..
hey, look, they where bad and ugly cars, and another, better and shiny, car came, and the newest one won and cars evolved ....

Actually if you think about what Tubbs is saying above, he is absolutely right.... it isn't the robot that's the issue, it's the program; not the body...the soul.
I'm thinking this of course has been mentioned before on many different levels and in many different ways... it just took Tubbs to say what he did for me to see it this way.

Casey, Rebecca you need a link at the top of your main page for your 'most popular posts'.

Actually as now we are capable of being more then animals and we can change our environment and very soon rewrite our own DNA and become cybernetic entities we are gods now be that we are only young ones. So it seems only fit that we create life in our own image which will evolve on it's own terms and long after we are gone, it will ask the question why am I here and how did we get here. The age old problem will remain, truth and belief are not the same thing, time wipes away all crimes. This seems to be the natural order of things, accept it!!!!!

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