Saturday, April 11, 2009

Compassion Guidance System

Among the many things I dabble around in, I'm continually fascinated with artificial intelligence and robotics.

I get my fix of botstuff over at this blog, which today served up an absolutely delightful story from New York. It's a little robot called the tweenbot, which is pretty weak by robot standards. Does it clean your house? Nope. Does it explore the deepest recesses of interplanetary space? No. Is it a new form of intelligence? Naw.

All it does is roll forward. That's it. It can't steer. It has no idea where it's actually going, no complex processors and satellite navigation system interlaced with advanced optical scanners.

Instead, it has a cute little smiley face, and a flag on the back which asks passersby to help point it in the right direction. Its creator sets it trundling off, and the only way it can get to it's target destination is with the direct assistance of human beings.

What's most cool about this form of navigation is that it actually works. It doesn't work quickly...but it works. This tiny little insensate thing can get where it's supposed to go, because human beings--New Yorkers, no less--are willing to take a few seconds out of their lives to help.

Perhaps there's hope for humanity yet.