Tagged: Artificial Intelligence

"I for one welcome our new computer overlords"

March 20th, 2012 in Article 1 comment


The parting words of Ken Jennings in last year’s Jeopardy match against Watson, a computer seemingly able to decipher and process language, are a milestone for robotic innovations. Advancements in neuroscience and robotics have focused on giving robots human-like intelligence and processing skills. This concept has been depicted numerous times in popular culture, many times in terms of robotic rebellion, for example in movies such as I, Robot or WALL-E.

Recent robotics research leaves us with a couple of questions. Are really focusing on the right aspects of advancing in robotic technologies? Instead of perfecting intelligence and processing, why not instead focus on perfecting human emotion? More

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A.I. in the "Cloud"

October 26th, 2011 in Opinion 1 comment


The world seems as though it is starting to move faster and faster, and thus the demand for information and information accessibility is drastically speeding up as well. Modern computers and related technologies, however, have done a remarkable job with both creating and keeping up with the ever growing demand for data and access people need to it. Perhaps one of the interesting innovations on the scene as of late is the emergence of a new form of information sharing and storing colloquially called “cloud computing”. More

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Mind and Heart

June 27th, 2011 in News 3 comments


I have some news that might be a bit disappointing to…well, pretty much anyone who would find themselves on a blog dedicated to the mind and brain.  Bear with me (or not, if you’d like, really), but this is a post primarily about the heart.

I was recently introduced via a grad student in the (yes, neuroscience) lab I work in to the latest advancement in the race to perfect an artificial heart. That link is to an NPR article that really tells you everything you need to know…and you should absolutely read it.  But to summarize the details you need to know for my purposes here, the design is completely novel, and unlike previous designs, it doesn’t use nature as its inspiration. More

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I, Rudimentary Intelligence

August 12th, 2010 in Uncategorized 0 comments

Recent reports of artificial life forms which have “evolved” a basic form of intelligence have caused quite a stir in the biological and computer science communities.
This would normally be the time when I remind everyone that closer scrutiny must be paid to just what is meant by “life”, “evolve” and “intelligence”.  But while those are all fascinating philosophical questions, there is no way in which a modest little blog post could begin to cover those topics. asimov-robot

Instead, I’d like to draw attention to a particular aspect of Isaac Asimov’s writing, of which I can’t help being reminded after reading these reports.  As the father of the term “robotics” and all things relating to it, Asimov dealt with nearly all of the issues relating to artificial intelligence.  A few of his fictional robot characters even developed human-like, self-aware consciousness and creativity.  But the one thing which stands out about these characters was that their consciousness was rarely a design of their creators, but rather a fluke.  Minute variations in the mechanized construction of their positronic brains amounted to  unique, creative minds.

Asimov’s choice to author conscious robots as results of random chance forces us to think about how human consciousness evolved in reality.  It may be that such a consciousness is not strictly required for an organism to dramatically enhance its chances of survival and reproduction. We seem to assume that our superior cognitive abilities grant us an enormous advantage over other species, that the sort of consciousness which makes us self-aware, reflective and creative was the “end result” in a very long line of brain development.  But evolution does not work towards such a specific end.  There are plenty of other species (e.g. viruses) that persist with just as much vigor as us, despite their lack of cognitive powers associated with the forebrain.  Perhaps only a minor, random mutation resulted in a dramatic and permanent change in the brain, a change which ultimately amounted to consciousness.  Who knows what the odds are that such an intelligence evolved, or will evolve again in a computer simulation?  At least we can be reassured that, on a long enough time scale, even the most unlikely event can occur.

In any case, Boston University’s own Isaac Asimov has made many a prediction with his science fiction, and many more can be expected.

“Artificial life forms evolve basic intelligence”-Catherine Brahic

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