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Robot 'Thinks' Like a Honey Bee

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Bee brain that potent?
Ann R. Thryft   10/15/2012 6:21:55 PM
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Thanks for clarifying. I still think there are some unwarranted, anthropomorphizing assumptions in the comments here about how much independence a machine can actually have. OTOH, the lack of predictability is precisely why other researchers are working on not only autonomous robots, but two-way communications methods with same, as we covered here: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=251721

SparkyWatt
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Re: Bee brain that potent?
SparkyWatt   10/16/2012 9:13:51 AM
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I am a degreed engineer and a programmer.  I have worked in Artificial Intelligence.  I don't anthropomorphize.  If my comments sound that way it is because I don't have the language to express the real concern briefly.  Put simply, a system that is not completely predictable is out of control.  You cannot prove that a system that is out of control is safe.  Neural networks and similar computing systems are very good at certain tasks, but when they get more than so complex, their behavior can no longer be predicted.  The technical term is Chaotic.  It also applies to fluid flow, and is why we can't predict the weather.

Now, imagine trying to dealing with an industrial robot capable of throwing a car across the room that becomes unpredictable when the situation becomes unfamiliar to it.  Don't get me wrong.  It is not that the robot is likely to actually throw something, just the fact that something that powerful might do something completely unexpected is dangerous.

Little pilot things like this project aren't dangerous.  If they ever come out of simulation, it will be with little toy systems.  They are a great study platform, and we will learn a lot from them.  My concern is that we have a tendency to push these things into realms where they can cause problems before we learn to keep them safe.

It is not exactly the same thing, but the recent uncontrolled acceleration thing is an example of what I am talking about.  The programs and designs were not proven safe, and people got hurt.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Bee brain that potent?
Ann R. Thryft   10/16/2012 1:46:16 PM
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SparkyWatt, I wasn't referring to your comments, since you had just clarified them, but to those of others. I've noticed an anthropomorphizing tendency in comments on other blogs we've done about robot autonomy. But thanks for detailing more of what you're concerned about. I share those concerns, and so do many of our commenters.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Re: Bee brain that potent?
Jack Rupert, PE   10/22/2012 11:35:38 AM
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SparkyWatt, Would it be possible to address your (extremely valid) concerns by creating a conventional "box" around the AI system.  Not sure if that is the correct term but I'm thinking along the lines of the AI system providing the main control within limits set by a conventional system.  In reality, this is equivalent to what is done today with a "real" intelligent system (i.e., human controller).  The human could get distractacted and due something stupid, but there tends to be a conventional safety system to prevent that.  Use the same idea with AI instead of the human.

SparkyWatt
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Re: Bee brain that potent?
SparkyWatt   10/22/2012 2:05:03 PM
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@Jack Rupert: That could be done to a point.  In systems where the safety issues are fairly simple, putting a "box" around the AI system could be very effective.  For example an AI controlled industrial robot could still be stopped by a conventional safety curtain.  However in more complex systems, there is no conventional system that could provide that protection.  An example of what I am talking about would be an AI controlled car.

I think it would be far better to learn how to control "the way they think".  This would be a significant extension of feedback/control theory that would ensure that they stayed on task and within safe boundaries.  It is a much deeper learning curve for us to get there, but that way we could design systems that would not be inclined to try something stupid.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Bee brain that potent?
Jack Rupert, PE   10/22/2012 2:51:55 PM
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@SparkyWatt, I see what you mean with the autonomous car example where the safety "box" wouldn't work.  Is your idea to have a more specific / complex level of conventional control, or is to attempt to figure out how AI works at a much lower level and prevent "bad" decisions in that manner?

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