Artificial intelligence gives machines the ability to solve a problem, such as recognizing a face, even when there is not enough information to solve it using logic alone. We find it easy to tell people apart, but machines have to work hard to do it. More difficult problems, such as driving a car, are still beyond their reach. Intelligence clearly demands more than just logic. Research aims to give machines feelings, too.


Sony’s Aibo robotic dog was introduced in 1999. It uses advanced computer software to give it abilities that seem natural. Aibo’s basic instincts are to sleep, explore, exercise, and play. It can also express joy, sadness, anger, surprise, and fear with lights, sounds, and gestures. Aibo recognizes its owner and comes when it is called.


Face recognition programs on computers work by measuring prominent features of the face, such as the pupils of the eyes and the tip of the nose. The distances and angles between these are different for every face. By looking at enough features, the program can spot a known face even when the image is poor or the person is disguised.


COG is a robot without legs that learns how to move by handling objects. Its intelligence comes from several computer programs that work together like parts of the brain. Rodney Brooks, director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA, started the COG project in 1994 to see how artificial intelligence is affected by experience in the real world.


Kismet was one of the first robots that responded to people in a natural way. It was designed by US engineer Cynthia Breazeal in 1999. The robot can move its ears, eyebrows, eyelids, and jaw, and can bend its lips up or down to smile or frown. It also responds to speech with babbling sounds.


Kismet’s creator started with a degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California. She worked on Kismet in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and now directs its Media Lab Robotic Life group. Her aim is to create AI robots that work alongside people.



Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley


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