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View Diary: Computerized Brain To Be Completed by 2020 (180 comments)

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  •  nervous nets are powerful (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, linkage, AkaEnragedGoddess, The Nose

    I've seen little insectoid robots with no more than a few dozen transistors networked together with servos and simple sensors execute totally independent and arguably purposeful action.  Make them solar powered and they flail their way over any obstacle in pursuit of light ... at which point they stop as if thinking "I'm right where I want to be", and will stay there until the light moves or something else moves them.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 11:06:30 AM PST

    •  Purposeful? (0+ / 0-)

      But not their own purpose.  They are just machines doing what they have been programmed by humans to do.  They might even be able to do certain tasks better than humans, like that robot hand which has been programmed to solve the Rubik's Cube blindingly fast, or computers which can beat human chess masters - they are not really besting us, since they are just extensions of our own intelligence - they are just tools.  We can dig a hole with a shovel much faster than with our bare hands, but a shovel isn't therefore "outperforming" humans - it's just an example of a good tool, an extension of the human brain. Same goes for any computer or robot.

      Seems to me, no computer/robot can be considered more than a tool unless it has volition - its own desire to do something.  IBM's Watson beat the best human "Jeopardy!" players, but it had no desire to do so, no awareness that it did so.  So Watson is no more than a shovel.

      That said, it's easy to imagine automated robot soldiers (perhaps the size of insects) who could self-replicate and  could kill much more efficiently than human soldiers.  Scary to think about, but I suppose we already have some pretty scary tools available to annihilate ourselves (nukes, bioweapons).

      •  these robots aren't programmed by anyone (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AoT, Rob in Vermont

        These little analog insect robots are not executing a program written by humans.  They don't have a hard drive or flash memory.  There's no USB cable running back to a computer "brain".  There's no software telling them to move towards the light or calculating angles and vectors to climb over an obstacle.  Their behavior is an apparently inevitable product of the physical existence of a nervous net.

        These robots are not extensions of a human's will.  There's no part of their design methodology that allows for human control of their actions.  Their behavior is to a remarkable extent unpredictable; battery-operated ones can and do roam freely, with no obvious motive except something inside them that says "Move."  Perhaps the simple fact of being capable of movement demands movement by giving the electrons someplace to go, while light and pressure sensors alter the analog signals running through the net again just by being there, generating an inner drive to either push forward or ease off.

        To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

        by Visceral on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 08:08:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks (0+ / 0-)

          I wasn't aware of how these worked.  Googled around on this subject. I'm not sure I'd agree that just because they're behavior isn't entirely predictable, they are "not extensions of a human's will".  For example, consider a weather balloon. It's actions are not entirely predictable, since of course the weather is  not entirely predictable.  But its existance and utility are entirely the result of human will.  It's got no will of its own, no purpose of its own.  

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