News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Disembodied Electronic Brains


Contemporary humanoid robots may look cool, but these robots really do very little thinking. They simply follow specific and exact orders from a human operator with preset motions and activities. Sony hopes to address this issue by moving the robot brain outside the robot body. The robot will connect wirelessly to a supercomputing grid that will take care of all processing and should start allowing robots to think for themselves.

Grids combine the processing power and communication ability of computers into a larger entity that acts as one large supercomputer. Grids are beginning to pop up all over, often in unlikely places. There are grids that try to predict the stock market, grids used by universities and researchers for processing-hungry simulations, grids for games that support millions of players at the same time, and grids maintained by businesses to make better use of their own computer resources. All of these grids will continue to grow, diversify, and merge, until the grid fabric becomes so pervasive than no one will be able to tell where one component grid begins and another ends. Robots will tap this enormous supercomputer brain. As robotics and grid technology progress, they will rapidly converge, creating a future that is beyond human predictive abilities. After all, what does it mean to have robots with supercomputer brains or super fast wireless connections to supercomputer brains? What happens when a robot has a supercomputer built into its body AND still connects to the Grid? And what happens when supercomputers begin approaching human-level intelligence?

%d bloggers like this: