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The advent of the Mind Age of intelligent robots envisioned by Hans Moravec will bring profound transformations in
global social and technological structures and relations of an advanced intelligence to its environment. The ability of future
machines to directly share experiences and knowledge with each other will lead to evolution of intelligence from relatively
isolated individual minds to highly interconnected structural entities. The development of a network of communicating
mobile and stationary devices may be seen as a natural continuation of biological and technological processes leading to a
community of intentionally designed and globally interconnected structures. The growing reliance of system connections
on functional, rather than physical, proximity of their elements will dramatically transform the notions of personhood and
identity and create a new community of distributed "infomorphs" - advanced informational entities - that will bring the
ongoing process of liberation of functional structures from material dependence to its logical conclusions. The infomorph
society will be built on new organizational principles and will represent a blend of a superliquid economy, cyberspace
anarchy and advanced consciousness. The new system will incorporate many of today's structures and will develop new
traits transcending the limits of human understanding. Its evolution will evade human control, but relations of descendants
of humans and today's machines will be largely symbiotic and will lead to the emergence of a new ecology of intelligence.
In his new book, "Mind Age: Transcendence Through Robots", Hans Moravec describes further stages in the evolution
of the robotics industry, where each robot will learn from experience, adapt to changing environments and eventually
acquire real intelligence approaching- and then exceeding - that of humans. The intelligent machines are expected to
replace humans in most tasks we are capable of. This will raise a plethora of issues, from human unemployment to ethical
treatment of robots and the task of taming their runaway intelligence.
"Mind Age" is a provocative and compelling book that I recommend to anyone interested in the structural evolution of the
world. In this essay, I will build from Moravec's conclusions and suggest some complementary ideas, mostly related to
the distributed architecture of future intelligence that I consider important for exploring the Mind Age.
Learning from the experience is a very useful skill. If your robot slips on a banana peel a number of times, it will be less
likely to do it again in the future. However, processing of limited personal experience by limited intelligence is bound to
bring limited results. The derived knowledge may be incomplete, inconsistent, and clumsily formulated, which will lead to
false conclusions, arbitrary beliefs and superstitions - the typical content of any primitive mind.
Robots who already had that educational banana peel experience could share it, together with some conclusions, with
your robot. Or - better yet, they could share information with the nearest knowledge processor, which would combine
one robot's experience with that of others, develop efficient general algorithms for identifying similar situations and taking
appropriate actions, and then download them to all participating robots.
Humans obtain most of their knowledge by learning from experience and from the conclusions of others, despite their
poor memory, low communication speeds and inability to transfer knowledge directly. One may expect information
sharing among robots, who are not handicapped by any of these limitations, to be much more efficient. Furthermore,
information storage and processing costs in large stationary machines may be much lower than in small, mobile units.
Elimination of redundant computations within millions of robots would make a networked system greatly more efficient
than a collection of unconnected machines. Sharing of experience may prove to be a still greater benefit. Thus,
cooperative knowledge processing would be several orders of magnitude less expensive and at the same time vastly
more productive. Such advantages make the networked design an imperative rather than a matter of taste.
Putting Networked Robots to Work
Rather than functioning as independent entities, networked robots and other smart machines would work more like
semi-intelligent, semi-autonomous front-ends of the global system. Your home, for example, will have a number of
devices with varying types and degrees of mobility, sensitivity and intelligence - and so will cars, factories, highways,
spaceships, etc. These devices will interact with larger machines and each other for continuous data backups, experience
sharing, and knowledge upgrading.
Each networked machine would ultimately rely on global intelligence, and would only locally store the knowledge that is
frequently used or may be urgently needed. For example, if somebody starts telling your robot
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Artificial intelligence, Robotics, Robot, Philosophy of artificial intelligence, Intelligence, Hans Moravec, Cognitive robotics, Outline of artificial intelligence, Cloud robotics
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