the edge has a moderately interesting piece by the principal research scientist in the robotics institute of carnegie mellon university, hans moravec :

“This path to machine intelligence, incremental, reactive, opportunistic and market-driven, does not require a long-range map, but has one in our own evolution. In the decades following the first universal robots, I expect a second generation with mammallike brainpower and cognitive ability. They will have a
conditioned learning mechanism, and steer among alternative paths in their application programs on the basis of past experience, gradually adapting to their special circumstances. A third generation will think like small primates and maintain physical, cultural and psychological models of their world to mentally rehearse and optimize tasks before physically performing them. A fourth, humanlike, generation will abstract and reason from the world model. I expect the reasoning systems will be adopted from the traditional AI approach maligned earlier in this essay. The puddles will have reached the ripples.”

i don’t know – it seems like good old fashioned ai and robotics has been promising this type of thing for long. it was cool when i was a little ankle-biter reading isaac asimov, but really – we can’t even manage to produce a stable browser….

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