Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, January 29, 2010

Robots develop predator-prey techniques - Does this not frighten anyone?

PopSci - 1.28.10 (by Stuart Fox)

When we last checked in with the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems in the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale of Lausanne, Switzerland, their evolving robots had learned how deceive other robots about the location of a resource. Since then, their robots have continued to evolve, learning how to navigate a maze, beginning to cooperate and share, and even developing complex predator-prey interactions.

As before, the Swiss scientists placed within the robot's operating system both basic instructions, and some random variations that changed every generation in virtual mutations. After each trial, the code for the more successful robots got passed on to the next generation, while the code for the less successful robots got bred out.

This time, however, the researchers designed a whole new menagerie of robots, including a set of hunter robots that pursue prey-bots, maze-running robots, and robots designed to deposit a token in a given area.

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Aunty Proton said...

Frightening? Actually, no.

These robots are programmed only to hunt each other, not to eat or otherwise attack each other. Going further, they could of course be programmed to attack each other. But why? Reading the rest of the article, another project has evolved robots to cooperate. Which behavior takes less investment of energy and resources for the rewards given? I suspect it's cooperation.

At some point in the future, robots and humans may be in competition for the same resource -- energy. What would gain them the most energy with the least cost? Chasing down and killing all 6 billion plus humans? Or cooperating with humans to evolve new designs of energy production? I should think it would be making a deal where the robots / AIs offer to evolve the designs and help to build the facilities if the humans supplied the materials and contributed manpower. It would be to their advantage to allow the humans access to the designs, since it might mean humans would share the energy produced. Cooperation takes less energy than conflict, and in the long term acts as an investment.

Where are the robots going to get the idea to come after humans? From us, from our fears. We're projecting our own fears onto them.

Hello, I'm Aunty Proton, and I'm a crusader for Cybernetic Rights. :)