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Friday, June 23, 2006

Freakin' Awesome

Saw this on Slashdot earlier today:
Researchers led by the Institute of Cognitive Science and Technology in Italy are developing robots that evolve their own language, bypassing the limits of imposing human rule-based communication.

The most important aspect is how it learns to communicate and interact. Whereas we humans use the word ‘ball’ to refer to a ball, the AIBO dogs start from scratch to develop common agreement on a word to use to refer the ball. They also develop the language structures to express, for instance, that the ball is rolling to the left. The researchers achieved this through instilling their robots with a sense of ‘curiosity.’

Initially programmed to merely recognise stimuli from their sensors, the AIBOs learnt to distinguish between objects and how to interact with them over the course of several hours or days. The curiosity system, or ‘metabrain,’ continually forced the AIBOs to look for new and more challenging tasks, and to give up on activities that did not appear to lead anywhere. This in turn led them to learn how to perform more complex tasks, an indication of an open-ended learning capability much like that of human children.

Also like children, the AIBOs initially started babbling aimlessly until two or more settled on a sound to describe an object or aspect of their environment, gradually building a lexicon and grammatical rules through which to communicate.

That is absolutely godly. I want a litter of those.

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