20 years of research have gone into the robots we have today, and many of these robots seem quite impressive. We are stunned and amazed by robots that can catch a ball, walk up stairs, or balance on one leg. However, all of these feats are fairly unremarkable when performed by a three year old human child. Just how smart are robots?
Michio Kaku, a futurist and theoretical physicist, says that, “Our robots today, have the collective intelligence and wisdom of a cockroach.” He goes on to clarify that the cockroach he is referring to would be mentally deficient and lobotomized. Despite how amazing we might find some of the robots we have today, they are not intelligent. However, Kaku acknowledges that computer and robotics technology is advancing at an incredibly rapid pace. He expects that by the year 2020, we could possibly have robots that are as smart as mice or maybe even dogs.
It’s not that our computers or robots aren’t smart. We definitely have smart computers. A chess playing supercomputer named Deep Blue beat the world’s then best chess player Gary Kasparov back in 1997.
The problem is that computers and robots don’t have common sense. Imagine knowing every fact in the entire world, but not knowing that standing in front of a moving car could kill you. For truly intelligent robots to exist, they need to be able to learn like humans learn.
A robot called Cog is learning through experience similarly to the way that humans learn. Robots that learn from experience won’t have to be programmed to perform each and every task. They can instead learn how to do tasks, which many roboticists believe is the next step in creating intelligent robots.
One of the great things about advancements in robotics, is that the technology is often applicable to other areas such as manufacturing. The manufacturing industry has benefited greatly from robots. It will be amazing to see what can happen with truly intelligent robots!