Let's Make Robots!

Artificial Intelligence Questionaire

Hi Guys,

I'm new to robots etc. I am currently doing a school project on artificial intelligence and wanted to do some research. I thought why not go talk to the experts so here I am. I have already done some background research and already know the general definition but part of the project requires me to gain information from a range of sources. This is a kind of questionaire/interview to gain new sources from experts.

Could you please explain in your own way "What is Artificial Intelligence?" and "How can you prove when a robot has AI?". Please make the answers as detailed as possible.

My chosen project is to design and create a robot (i.e line follower) and discuss whether or not it posseses AI. 

Also could you suggest a robot ( line follower or maze solver) which would be closest to AI in order for me to raise a good discussion.

Thanks for the help!

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Some of the best work in AI comes from google. Whan clumsy tpyist like me serch... It still understands what I mean. lol.

I think AI is a moving goal. What we once would have considered incredulous is now taken for granted. I agree that behaviours emerging that were not programmed is an acceptable measure for AI but also like to consider any form of automated/algorithmic  thinking as AI in a simpler sense.

Sophisticated AI is after all only a combination of algorithms which are each automated thinking. A calculator is an example of automated thinking and while it is not by itself a favourable example of AI, mathematical calculations are a necesary part of all algorithms.

On the other hand as mathematics originate from the human mind then perhaps making a machine calculate is a form of Artifical intelligence.

Just look at how manufacturers of some products use the word "intelligent" in their promotion of their product. Most of the time this is purely a formula computed to adjust some value in the system.

Whenever I think about this question I find it difficult to pinpoint exactly the right answer. We all have our favourite robots from movies, books and cartoons with personality. And so I guess the question of consciousness comes to mind. Is it possible to create a conscious robot and is this the ultimate when it comes to AI?

AI = Memory + Behavior(Memory) + Emergence(Behavior(Memory)) + Magic

Memory can be an abstract data-structure that gets filled with data on events from the environment.
Behavior are pre-programmed algorythms or a set of rules that are executed as an action or reaction to the environment.
Emergence is the result of the combination of the behaviors.
Magic is the unknown that makes the difference between a rock or metal to a flower or human.

So one could say that AI is a function of memory:    AI(Memory)


Testcase. A test case for AI could be: If the robot makes progress on what it does by exclusively using the own memory then this robot has AI.

Example. You could use a floor cleaner as an example. If this cleaner can lean where to clean and how to get there, is it then an AI cleaner?

For any robot to have what I would consider inteligence then it must have the ability to learn from previous experience. Most robots on LMR would not fall into that category however:

Patrick McCabes maze solving robot had a simple AI that could learn which were wrong turns and later repeat a maze without making any mistakes.

Another robot I have seen used a simulated nueral network. This robot learned to navigate it's enviroment by itself.
Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCDU8mMcU5I

The video is a bit long but you can clearly see how it starts off with random behavior and then learns to navigate by itself so that even when new obstacles are added or moved around it can still navigate around them.

Thanks. Patricks's robot is very interesting and well built. Does anyone know if he is still active on this forum? or anyway I can contact him.

He's probably packing right now.  He made us all very proud by getting accepted at MIT and so he's got to get moving.  If you add him as a friend you can contact him from that page or you can check out http://www.patrickmccabemakes.com and see if you can get ahold of him through that site.  Do your homework before you bug him-his time is tight!

thanks for the wonderful answers! 

Besides all AI definitions out there here s mine:

I guess there are different levels of AI, simple, medium and advanced.

The simple stage is learning by experience. Here is an example, the maze solving robot from Patrick http://letsmakerobots.com/node/25735

Ok, it's pre-programed but each brain has to be programed in a way. It find it's way through the maze and remembers it. The second attempt will use the learned path to avoid dead ends and go directly to the exit. For my understanding, this is a simple AI.

Medium and advanced AI is just more advanced, faster and more  versatile. It can learn in different ways, make decisions which of the learned date to use to get the task done in the most efficient way. A chess program is not AI, it's just a pre-proigramed pattern. If the chess program adapt to the opponent and learn how he is playing to response then it might be close to an AI. For example, if the human player is using mainly the horse that the AI learn that and develop a strategy to take out the horse, block it or protect his figures from the horse. I am sure something like that is already included in the chess program but yeah...just my 2 cent

As for any philosophical questions, wording is the key.

Artificial : do we mean fake (good enough to be cheated) or synthetic (like ours but not from carbon life form). My choice is synthetic. I will not call AI a chess program.

Intelligence : what is intelligence? The meaning goes from calculating fast (as in IQ) to understanding your neighbour (as in CIA).

I may call intelligent a group of plants that communicate chemically and become poisonous when one of them is being eaten.

But once you understand the mechanic behind these observation, you cannot really call that intelligence.

The word I would really think about is consciousness. Consciousness is that shadowy, unwordable (what is the word Lovecraft used?) thing that links all the inputs to the outputs. Science (not freudian psycho crooks) shows that unconscious processes play a big part in the final response or even in the desire.

I am convinced we will create consciousnes (and unconsciousness) on something else than carbon. It will know thirst and hunger, though it will call it battery level. It may needs words like love and hate even towards other AI, but its definitions will be very different from ours. In fact, we may be closer (emotionnally) to any carbon lifeform in the universe than to our AI.

It is a very interesting question anyway. But it touches so much on the pride and fear of human against machine, with some religious belief to help everybody keep reasonable (Did you notice the sarcasm? I'd appreciate you did!), it is hard to expect a thorough, scientific answer.




The normal test for artificial intelligence is called a Turing test. It involves having a human being ask a series of questions to both another human being and a computer without knowing which is which. If the human asking the questions can't tell which is the computer and which is the human than the computer is said to possess artificial intelligence. This may be what DaveyJones is referring to previously.

Obviously this is a little more than your line follower/maze solver would be up for, but it might help you to think about it this way: if you encountered another human being who couldn't communicate with you verbally and was capable only of following a line drawn on the floor (but only if you put him on that line initially) would you consider that person intelligent? Are there different standards of intelligence for people and machines then? Are we as humans so impressed with our creations when they imitate what we think of as acheivment that we're willing to accept them into the club of "thinkers?"

that is what I think about AI, I am french, my english can be not perfect, but my differente culture can see the AI diferently :

I think we can say a robot has an AI when the robot acting a non-programmed action against an element of his environment.

All other posibilities of action, re-action, or environmental is only the result of programming.