Everybody likes to talk about artificial intelligence as if there is one simple hurdle to jump over and then BOOM, instant A.I. But this is of course an impossibility. People have a hard enough time raising their brain-harboring children to be mildly intelligent, so how can we expect a robot to just automatically understand a world that is forever changing?
By raising one as if it’s a child, that’s how! (Sort of.) Robot Adam Z1 is the electronic brainchild of robotics designer and researcher David Hanson, who has spent well over a decade creating some of the coolest robots around, usually with realistic-looking faces on them. (Like Albert Hubo.) Hanson is working with Brazilian artificial general intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel, founder of OpenCog AGI; robotics physicist Mark Tilden, creator of the WoWee Robosapien; and consciousness and design researcher Gino Yu. Together, they aim to make Adam Z1 as smart and functional as a normal three-year-old toddler. Just minus all the poopy diapers, assuming they don’t bring in a “robotic colon expert.”
The problem is, they need $300,000, all of which would go to getting all of their hard work programmed into Adam Z1’s next-generation mind and body. Their IndieGoGo campaign, which you guys should really take a look at, is pretty clever, as it’s given from the point of view of Adam Z1 himself. And what kind of a heartless bastard doesn’t want to throw money at giving a robot boy a brain? I mean, besides broke people like myself.
Here’s a breakdown of the 18-month timeline that Adam Z1’s attributes would follow. Four months after getting his brain, the bot will be playing with toys, stacking blocks, and following simple instructions. Not too shabby. At eight months, he’ll have a slight grasp on the English language and will be able to describe what he’s doing, as well as being able to read people’s emotions and responding with his own. He’ll also be creating rudimentary drawings on an iPad. Twelve months later, he’ll understand and be able to speak in more complex sentences, and perform longer sequences of actions; the drawings will improve and reflect on what he is seeing and doing. Finally, the 18-month point will present the world with an Adam Z1 that will reach full toddler-dom. After that, who knows? Ninja Turtle bedsheets? Girlfriends? Puberty? Does a robot shave rust off its skin?
And if all that weren’t awesome enough, the software is open sourced, so others will be able to use and improve upon the technology.
Adam Z1 leaves us with the ominous and vaguely creepy final thoughts. “So I can promise you one thing: If you help me out now when I need it, then once I do eventually become an incredibly intelligent robot, I will remember you!” I think I’d rather be forgotten.
Check out the team’s promo video below, which hopefully isn’t the apex of this foursome’s capabilities, as it’s kind of corny and ’80s looking. (And I like that.)