To create a robot with common sense, mimic a toddle
Why will your robot, Adam Z1, be a toddler?
We are not trying to make a robot exactly like a 3-year-old. There is no toilet training involved! Our main goal is for him to engage in creative play like a young child. For example, if you ask him to “build me something I haven’t seen before” using foam blocks, he would remember what he’d seen you see and then build something different. A smart 3-year-old can do this but no robot today can.
Where will that lead?
What I want to do is make thinking machines that are far smarter than humans. Step one is to make an AI program that understands the world, and itself, in a basic common-sense manner. I think the best way to get there is to build a robot toddler.
How will you get from toddler-level smarts to super-intelligence?
We have specialised algorithms that can predict the stock market and genetic causes of disease. Once we get an AI with basic common sense, you can hybridise with existing narrow software. By putting the two together, you are going to get a whole new kind of artificial general intelligence expert – good at solving specialised problems, but in a way that uses contextual understanding.
Many have tried to create human-like AI and failed. What will be different about yours?
Our open source AI project OpenCog has an architecture for general intelligence that incorporates all the different aspects of what the mind does. No one else seems to have that. Most computer scientists focus on one algorithm – for search or for pattern-recognition, perhaps. The human mind is more heterogeneous; it integrates a bunch of different algorithms. We have tried to encompass that complexity in a family of learning and memory algorithms that all work together.
Will you teach the robot or program it?
It will be a mix. The robot will watch people in the lab and experiment and fiddle with things, and we will also have a programming team improving the algorithms all the time. But there won’t be “build stairs” or “build a wall” programs that we write. It will have to learn these things from higher-level goals – like pleasing people, or getting gold stars.
Adam Z1’s body will be a highly lifelike Hanson robot – why is that important?
The main thing with the Hanson robot (see) is that the face is highly expressive. In terms of social interactions, it is valuable to have a robot that can convey emotions and desires. He needs to learn from people: the more engaged they are, the better data they will give to power his learning.
You are crowdfunding Adam Z1. So far you have only $5000 of the $300,000 target…
Raising research money via crowdfunding is a very speculative thing. We viewed it as a kind of experiment, not only to gain money but also to learn how people react; what they say, what pushback they give. If we succeed, that would be awesome and will accelerate our progress. Fortunately we already have some funding, so the project is going forward one way or another.