Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dog Robots Create Secret Language

From The Engineer Online:

Researchers led by the Institute of Cognitive Science and Technology in Italy are developing robots that evolve their own language, bypassing the limits of imposing human rule-based communication.

“The result is machines that evolve and develop by themselves without human intervention,” said Stefano Nolfi, the coordinator the ECAgents project. The project is financed by the European Commission’s Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) initiative.

The technology, dubbed Embedded and Communicating Agents by researchers at Sony’s Computer Science Laboratory in France, has allowed the robotic pet to learn new tricks itself and share its knowledge with others.

“What has been achieved at Sony shows that the technology gives the robot the ability to develop its own language with which to describe its environment and interact with other AIBOs. It sees a ball and it can tell another one where the ball is, if it’s moving and what colour it is, and the other is capable of recognising it,” Nolfi said.

The most important aspect is how it learns to communicate and interact. Whereas we humans use the word ‘ball’ to refer to a ball, the AIBO dogs start from scratch to develop common agreement on a word to use to refer the ball.

The AIBOs initially started babbling aimlessly until two or more settled on a sound to describe an object or aspect of their environment, gradually building a lexicon and grammatical rules through which to communicate.

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