People who build robots say that, in the future, we’ll all have at least one of them working for us. They have learned that they need to create a kind of robot evolution in order to transform a basic robot into something effective for a specific task. Roboticist Josh Bongard created both simulated and actual robots that, like tadpoles becoming frogs, change their body forms while learning how to walk.
And, over generations, his simulated robots also evolved, spending less time in "infant" tadpole-like forms and more time in "adult" four-legged forms. These evolving populations of robots were able to learn to walk more rapidly than ones with fixed body forms. And, in their final form, the changing robots had developed a more robust gait that is better able to deal with events like being knocked with a stick than the ones that had learned to walk using upright legs from the beginning. Bongard says, "We’re copying nature, we’re copying evolution, we’re copying neural science when we’re building artificial brains into these robots. One thing that has been left out all this time is the obvious fact that in nature it’s not that the animal’s body stays fixed and its brain gets better over time. In natural evolution animals bodies and brains are evolving together all the time."
But he admits that, in some ways, they are too much like people for people to easily understand them. Are scientists "playing with fire" here–building robots they don’t fully understand that may eventually rise up and take over our world? That scary scenario may not happen, but many people who have had contact with "the Grays" find them robotical, with a "hive" mentality.
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