‘My smart robot is capable of evolving, but it doesn’t pose an existential risk’

Luzius Brodbeck has developed a smart algorithm for a cheap, intelligent robot that can teach itself the task of building smaller “babies” made from plastic cubes.   He has taken something computers do very well – simple manual tasks, performed repetitively – and added an intriguing twist. “If the robot carries out the routine of building a ‘baby’ robot 10 times in a row, each result will be different,” said Brodbeck, a PhD researcher at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich. The robot is given a set of between one and five cubes to glue together. It is instructed by an algorithm which tells the robot how to move its arm and where to connect the cubes. But these limited parameters can randomly change. The robot evaluates…


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