Lucy is not an ordinary robot, driven by software. She's a pure product of artificial intelligence (AI). And after a three-year long training, she's now able to make a difference between an apple and a banana, which is quite handy for an orang-utan, even if she doesn't eat them. Her five microcontroller chips wouldn't like this... In "A Grand plan for brainy robots," BBC News Online tells us that Lucy is the brainchild of Steve Grand, an honorary research fellow at Cardiff University's School of Psychology. And why did he choose an orang-utan design? "I made Lucy as an orang-utan because, can you imagine how scary it would be if she looked like a human baby?," said Grand.
Let's take a first look at Lucy (Credit: Steve Grand).
[Steve Grand's] baby, Lucy, may not be much to look at, but she represents perhaps the best example yet of how far we can get computers to "think" for themselves -- one of the most advanced artificial life-forms in existence.
His creature has five household computers to help her make decisions, but still struggles to see things that people -- in fact anything with a mammalian brain -- take for granted. Such as the difference between a banana and an apple.
So how did he train Lucy?
He designed Lucy so her one working eye, a digital camera, would have to interpret images as closely as possible to the way the human brain does (rather than cheating by simply using software for the job).
After years of trial and error, Lucy's 50,000 complex neurons can now tell the difference between something long and yellow and something round and green.
But why did Grand choose an orang-utan shape for his project? You'll find the answer in "Robot future looks bananas."
I made Lucy as an orang-utan because, can you imagine how scary it would be if she looked like a human baby?
She looks pretty scary as it is. But in addition, people's expectations would be too high if I made her as a human.
Those of you interested by Lucy's anatomy will discover she has five 16-bit microcontroller chips specialized for "vision pre-processing, auditory pre-processing, voice model, muscle control and proprioception" tasks.
Now, Grand is promoting a book he wrote about Lucy, "Growing Up with Lucy: How to Build an Android in Twenty Easy Steps," sold by Amazon UK for £11.89. Here is the interesting cover (Credit: Steve Grand).
Will Lucy affect your lives? I seriously doubt, but it's weekend time. Enjoy!
Source: Nick Dermody, BBC News Online Wales, March 18, 2004; Tryst Williams, The Western Mail, March 18, 2004, via icWales; and various websites