By: Nicholas West | –
When I wrote an article in January 2014 entitled, “Robots to Breed with Each Other and Humans by 2045,” it was met with some skepticism to say the least. Although some very influential and credible people in robotics and cybernetics were the ones making the claims, there was a bit of leap of definition required when talking about robots literally “breeding” and having “babies.”
George Zarkadakis, an artificial intelligence engineer, defined breeding in terms of autonomous robots aiming to produce superior offspring, whether through 3D printing or at the molecular level through their silicon and carbon make-up.
Professor Noel Sharkey from England’s Sheffield University pointed to the same concept as the “Wikipedia for Robots” – through a simple software swap, new intelligence could be created, as well as the likelihood of other upgrades like virus protection.
Other studies went even further to suggest that an emotional connection is already being made between humans and robots, which would enable actual breeding to take place among the two “species.” Professor Kevin Warwick from the Institution of Engineering and Technology in an interview with MailOnline stated:
‘just about anything is possible’ and . . . there are already robots with biological brains that mix biological and technological parts.
‘This is not science fiction,’ he said.
He believes that robots capable of breeding with each other could be produced using current research and technologies but it will likely take 20 to 30 years before they could be used on Earth – and there are questions to be asked about whether this is a good idea.
research into creating cyborgs as a result of ‘breeding’ with robots, and creating robots that breed with each other, depends on social acceptance, Professor Warwick said.
‘Over the next 20 to 30 years the question will be on the table and we have to face ethical issues.’
Outlandish and sensationalistic as it might seem, CNBC just posted an article which far outdid my own, entitled “Scientists make a robot that can have babies.”
Of course, they go on to explain that’s it’s not quite the type of birth to which humans might be accustomed. Nevertheless, it combines some of what is discussed above, and at least indicates that robots are continuing along the path of self-directed evolution.
Everyone who thinks robots are going to take over the world might be getting a lot more frightened: Scientists have created a machine that’s able to have babies. Sort of.
In an experiment designed to show how robots can learn and evolve, researchers in Cambridge and Zurich programmed a robot arm—or “mother”—with an algorithm to create a device made out of blocks containing motors—its “child”.
The blocks are assembled into a structure by the robot arm, and the motors are turned on. A camera detects how far the blocks are able to travel. The robot arm sees this, and then modifies the next “baby” to try to make it go further, learning from the mistakes and good traits of the last one.
This is all done without human intervention. The research was published in the journal PLOS One.
Despite CNBC’s downplaying the fears that many have about the evolution of killer robots, given the evidence of this type of autonomous evolution, to suggest that there is no worry whatsoever seems irresponsible. Our human minds have created dystopian scenarios in fiction – aka cautionary tales – but it appears that the robots could be on pace to learn their lessons faster than we have.