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"And the stars are projectors, yeah, projecting our lives down to this planet Earth." - Modest Mouse


7.02.2004

The Age Of Intelligent Machines 

Swiss researchers in artificial intelligence have created an associative computer capable of displayings it's social interaction through fractal displays, giving their autonomous machine the equivalent of body language.
There has been much research and musing about how autonomous machines like robots and intelligent software agents should interact with people. Much of the work focuses on giving machines a degree of social intelligence that will allow people to understand and communicate with them on human terms.

The researchers' autonomous machine interface consists of a clustering algorithm that groups the machine's many internal states into a manageable number of representations, and a fractal generator.

In the researchers' scheme, snapshots of a machine's sensory input, computational processing and output are clustered and the clusters are displayed as fractal images. The fractal generator produces a fractal pattern in the center of the display and patterns move outward in concentric rings, giving observers a sense of change over time.

Fractal generators produce a large variety patterns that people are quick to distinguish. A set of snapshots corresponding to a high degree of sensory stimulation could be clustered into a representation of the machine that people learn to associate with the machine observing a change in its environment, for example.

The fractal display served as the interface to a neural network that controlled the input and output devices of a smart room at the Swiss national exposition Expo.02 from May to October 2002. Exposition goers were able to interact with the room through the room's cameras, microphones, pressure sensors, light projectors and speakers.

Observers were able to correlate the room's behavior with the fractal display, said [researcher Jan-Jan] van der Vyver. "What we found surprising was that the general public so quickly gravitated toward our chosen implementation of the communication interface, and so quickly learned to interpret it," he said.

Given the prospect of self-evolving machines, the researchers argue for a broad definition of autonomous systems as systems developing according to their own dynamics through interaction with their environment. The ultimate in autonomous machines is a system that develops intelligent behavior simply as a result of participating in a society, van der Vyver said.


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