MIND CHILDREN: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence by Hans Moravec

MIND CHILDREN: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence

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KIRKUS REVIEW

I believe that robots with human intelligence will be common within fifty years."" So begins this dizzying display of intellect and wild imaginings by Moravec, a world-class roboticist (Director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory of Carnegie-Mellon U.) who has himself developed clever beasts. Moravec rattles off the history of man's flirtation with mechanical servants in succinct paragraphs. He does as well with the history of artificial intelligence and computers. His point is that robots stand a better chance of succeeding to human-like abilities because they are designed from the bottom up. The idea is to add increasing sensory-motor finesse based on the way nature did it--through evolution. In contrast, those enamored of Al work from the top down, trying to simulate the capability of the human brain--a fairly new entity on the evolutionary scene. Moravec's mode of robotic evolution entails elaborating all kinds of software: to permit conditioning, feeling, and imagery. As for the speed of computing capacity required, ten trillion operations a second, that's no problem. Moravec traces the logarithmic growth of computer ops over the years and projects ultimate miniaturizations, maybe superconducting quantum devices. The fallout of all this human ingenuity will be, probably, fancy robots. But the robots won't take over. Instead, Moravec opts for symbiosis. We could have robot proxies enabling us to operate at a distance; we could be outfitted with computer glasses that map where we are so we could never get lost; we could add hardware that would allow us to experience what distant travellers sense. Finally, we could obtain some sort of immortality by robotic copies of our minds. Undeniably, there's a lot of sci-fi fun and games in these scenarios. But also undeniably, Moravec comes across as a highly knowledgeable and creative talent--which is just what the field needs.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press