Sony researchers create 'curious' Aibos
Sony Corp. has succeeded in giving selected Aibo pet robots curiosity, researchers at Sony Computer Science Laboratory (SCSL) in Paris said last week. Their research won't lead to conscious robots soon, if ever, but it could help other fields such as child developmental psychology, they said during an open day in Tokyo. (...) what if a robot could be made inherently "curious?" And what if its curiosity was backed by awareness of the value of its learning? (..:)
They repeated the experiments hundreds of times with about a dozen Aibos, putting them in playpens with balls. In four or five hours, the mechanical dogs typically progressed from swivelling their legs and heads to wiggling, to being able to crawl. Then, each in their own way, they began to crawl and hit and follow the ball that had been placed in front of them, the researchers said. (...) Since the Aibos were not programmed to do any of these activities, such results suggest the Aibos have developed open-ended learning ability, Kaplan said.
To achieve this, the researchers equipped the Aibos with what they call an adaptive curiosity system or a "metabrain," an algorithm that is able to assess the robots' more conventional learning algorithms, they said.
In the experiments, the metabrain algorithm continually forced the learning algorithm to look for new and more challenging tasks and to give up on tasks that didn't seem to lead anywhere. The metabrains, in effect, gave the Aibos a sense of boredom as well as curiosity, helping them make choices to keep on learning, they said.