Futurists Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk had warned about the dangers intelligent machines would pose on us human beings. Such tech developments are taking place which will support their thoughts. Scientists at the University of Cambridge and ETH Zurich, have created one such robot which is highly intelligent. Just like a mother, it can create its own children robots. That’s not all, what makes it even more interesting is that it can mimic natural selection process to make them even better with each generation.
So, how does the process work? Let us have a look at this post to know more.
How Does the Mother Robot Work?
The mother robot assembles her robotic family from five plastic cubes which are fitted with motors. She then assesses which robot kid is the best and uses the winning characteristics for the next generation of robots.
Each of the plastic cube features an exclusive “genome” which is made up of a blend between one and five genes. With this genome, each cube is given its own set of traits which are associated with construction, shape and motor commands.
The thought behind this process is that, like there is mutation of the species in nature and genes are added, deleted or merged to adapt to various surroundings, the robot mom would enable its own evolution. The robot mom did just that without any computer simulation or human intervention. A single command was all that was used to build the robot.
The Inventor Project
The mother robot was used in five different experiments in which it created, designed and tested generations of ten child robots. Their performance was then tested by the robot mom by measuring to what extent each robot kid was able to travel within a fixed time frame. The kid which performed the best was advanced to the next generation in the same form. Genomes were created for the slower kids in the group by mutating and merging genes.
Professor Fumiya Iida from Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering said that the focus was to create creative robots that could be used to speed up and optimize the design and innovation processes.
He said “Robots are usually built for repetitive tasks, and for mass production instead of mass customization. But we are hoping that a robot can be an inventor. That’s why we’ve called this the Inventor Project—because the robot can actually invent something that we can’t invent.”
The technique has proved to be a successful one. With the collected data from each test, the evolution of the next generation was possible. The end result, i.e. the final generation saw the robot kids move with an average speed of more than twice compared to the fastest robots which are in the first generation. By improving the design and finding out new gait patterns and shapes, the mother robot could boost the performance of its robot kids. Some of the designs were so advanced, even humans would be unable to create them.
The overall aim of this project is to find out ways through which robotics can improve from the aspects of the natural world. This will be possible by shaping the way the robots move and also through more intelligent machines.
Iida said “Natural selection is basically reproduction, assessment, reproduction, assessment and so on. That’s essentially what this robot is doing, we can actually watch the improvement and diversification of the species.”
As of now, mankind doesn’t seem to be on threat by these smart little robotic cubes. However, they give a glimpse that robots, if left to their own means, might be able to create better machines in the near future than us humans.
What do you think about intelligent machines? Do you feel these robots will prove to be a threat for the mankind in the distant future? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.