Starting to think more seriously on my evolvable furby concept. To those that don’t know, the idea is to kickstarter a robot that can evolve true, life-like AI. There will be a few hundred small robots that connect every night to a server over wifi, relaying the amount of sensory input and feedback it got from the environment. The robots receiving the least amount of pain and most amout of pleasure from the environment are ranked the highest. A simple example would be that Pain can be from strong shocks picked up from an accelerometer and Pleasure can be through touch sensors or facial recognition that measures attention. Of course the actual sensors and criteria would be a bit more complex. The highest ranking robots are selected for a reproduction round which receives modifed genetic operators-a combination of particle swarm optimization and conventional genetic programming. The genes, which are located on the server, control the topology and other characteristics of the robot’s neural net- such as the activation function and the equation dictating hebbian learning. The new gene pool is then downloaded by the robots and the cycle repeats. There are serialized memory portions that are retained between cycles that contains the weights for the orginal neurons that havent changed between cycles- this way i hope the robots can retain a bit of their identity and memory of their owner and surroundings. If a firmware update hoses the robot, or makes the owner unrecognizable or whatever, the user can press a button to either receive a different set of genes from the pool, or revert the change. Of course the reversion de-ranks that set of genes in subsequent generations. I’m betting over time the robots would evolve to be something quite life-like and enjoyable for people to interact with, which is the primary selling point to the consumer. The business idea behind all of this that sells the idea to an investor would be to market a fully working model of a strong AI with ever increasing robot capabilities/sophistication. The intial neural net can be derived by evolving the robots in a simulation to give them the ability to navigate, avoid falls, find their charger, etc. most people i mention this to look at me like i am crazy. But it happens too often that i decide not to pursue an idea because of that only to see someone else pull it off. Just gotta find people that think it could work and devote some time to it.
Being a parent gives a whole new perspective on AI and robots. The guy uses the term “motor babbling”. The machine eventually learns to walk on its own much the same way babies learn to speak and walk. It’s kinda cool being part of the generation witnessing the closing gap between humans and machines. I think this concept is unpalatable to people (and even a few friends) because of the human ego. We used to fancy ourselves being the center of the universe and put up a lot of resistance to the idea that we orbit the sun, which is one of many stars out there. The next big shock will be the realization that machines can be truly sentient and not philosophical zombies.