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Researchers Using AI To Build Robotic Bees

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong? dept.

AI 44

An anonymous reader writes "British researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Sheffield are developing a computer model of a bee's brain that they hope can help scientists better understand the brains of more-complex animals, such as humans, and perhaps power artificial intelligence systems for bee-like robots. Called 'Green Brain,' the project is trying to advance the science of AI beyond systems that just follow a predetermined set of rules, and into an area where AI systems can actually act autonomously and respond to sensory signals."

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Promising... (2)

raydobbs (99133) | about 2 years ago | (#41519035)

...every good project has to start somewhere - and it will be interesting to see what this kind of AI modeling will accomplish. Perhaps we can learn more about bees, and how to keep them doing their busy work throughout our world without mass murdering them. ...that being said... the day they crack the secrets of modelling the human female's brain... there is where the real money will be made.

Re:Promising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41519277)

crack the secrets of modelling the human female's brain

Please, robotic bees are potentially dangerous enough without brains equivalent to that of human females locked into group think mode.

Re:Promising... (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#41525317)

With 2 daughters and a wife, I've lived in that femail group think mode. It's chilling.

Re:Promising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41525405)

Is "femail" a new gender specific electronig communication method?

-- MyLongNickName

Re:Promising... (2)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#41522251)

To me it seems that they should figure out how the single celled stuff (like amoebae and neutrophils) think before they go on to more complex stuff.

From what I see they seem smarter than most people (including many scientists) assume:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_xh-bkiv_c [youtube.com]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvOz4V699gk&feature=related [youtube.com]
http://www.brianjford.com/a-08-12-infocus_cell-intelligence.pdf [brianjford.com]

Have our AIs reached the level of intelligence of an Euglypha amoeba, which builds a pretty decent shell for itself: http://starcentral.mbl.edu/microscope/portal.php?pagetitle=assetfactsheet&imageid=26590 [mbl.edu]

It's quite an elaborate shell - with holes in the front and back. The number of "teeth" in the shell apparently is not determined strictly genetically either see 3) in:
http://what-when-how.com/molecular-biology/maternal-genetic-effects-molecular-biology/ [what-when-how.com]
Note that it builds a new similar shell when reproducing.

It may be that a single neuron is actually not that stupid and it's because you need redundancy and the ability to control a large creature/"machine" that you have to have many of them and a multicellular body.

Curiosity. (2)

Ostracus (1354233) | about 2 years ago | (#41519055)

A certain Mars Rover comes to mind.

Bee Brain (5, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | about 2 years ago | (#41519071)

for (x in recognize_nearby_objects())
{
if (x.type == FLOWER) {
nuzzle_flower(x);
}
else if (x.type == HUMAN) {
sting(x);
}
else if (x.type == SMOKE) {
sleep(1);
}
else {
buzz();
}
}

Re:Bee Brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41519243)

People claim to wonder why the Bees are dying. Is it parasites or viruses? Is it GMO crops interfering with the bees' internal chemistry?

No, it's because the stupid bugs think that it's a good idea to play on the wet surfaces of chlorinated swimming pools and jacuzzis. It's like how moths are attracted to bug zappers. Perhaps you should add that scenario to your nested statement.

Or, you can try to talk to the bees. The language of the bees cannot be learned, you have to intoxicate yourself into speaking it. Pop a few Vicodins and drink a fifth of vodka, and then you will speak their language - It will sound like "bzzzzzzz bzzzzzzz bzzzzzzzz" to humans, but you will be on the level of the bee. You can warn them before its too late.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Industrial Apiculture (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | about a year ago | (#41527675)

"The bees are fine," said the beekeeper.

While visiting a farmer's market this summer, I asked a beekeeper, "How are the bees?"

I was concerned that he had not understood my full message, so I amplified: "Nationally, I mean ... globally ... Colony Collapse Disorder ...?"

"There is no 'Colony Collapse Disorder'," he assured me. "This is an industry bugaboo, a distraction from the real problem, which is industrial-scale beekeeping.

"Oh, there are bees with mites, and diseases. But the real problem is industrial-scale beekeepers who move their colonies twice a year. When you keep your bees in Minnesota for a few months, then move them south for the winter -- move them next to industrial zones, toxic waste dumps -- then what can you expect?"

I don't know beekeeping, but this guy clearly does: the jar bears his name, his product is widely sold at grocery stores around town (Minneapolis/Saint Paul), and he had the absolute serene confidence of a man who has seen the future, knows the score, and will faithfully answer any question you care to ask.

Re:Bee Brain (3, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | about 2 years ago | (#41519345)

// The following section is essentially complete. Someone
// just needs to flesh out a few of the functions
// (probably just take an intern an afternoon)

for (x in recognize_nearby_objects())
{
if (x.type == FLOWER) {
nuzzle_flower(x);
}
else if (x.type == HUMAN) {
sting(x);
}
else if (x.type == SMOKE) {
sleep(1);
}
else {
buzz();
}
}

Dalek Bees! (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 2 years ago | (#41520329)

I hear them now! Oh no, the horror! ..... POLLINATE! POLLINATE!

Re:Bee Brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41522275)

The potential of killer bee type mass stinging incidents should be a concern. Bee-like robots would be immune to pesticides such as Sevin Dust or Drione Dust of the hive was a danger to humans.

Re:Bee Brain (1)

MatrixCubed (583402) | about 2 years ago | (#41524103)

...
sting(x);
die();
...

FTFY

These post titles really are sensationlist lately (1)

NinjaTekNeeks (817385) | about 2 years ago | (#41519123)

"British researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Sheffield are developing a computer model of a bee’s brain that they hope can help scientists better understand the brains of more-complex animals, such as humans, and perhaps power artificial intelligence systems for bee-like robots."

Perhaps bee-like robots. Or robots that function as bees do, where they perform mundane functions over and over for the good of society.

Re:These post titles really are sensationlist late (1)

TommyTumult (1614051) | about 2 years ago | (#41519203)

Or to produce dogs with bees in their mouths so when they bark they shoot bees at you

Re:These post titles really are sensationlist late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41519269)

Wasn't it recently discovered that bee behavior was strongly influenced by methylation of certain key gene segments, which upregulate certain systems, based on the role in the hive they have been allocated?

"Bee-like" robots, in the truest sense, would be highly susceptible to being reprogrammed through environmental stimulation, otherwise they would not be faithfully bee-like in terms of their AI implementation.

This means those autonomous drones could be repurposed by hackers and ner'-do-wells reasonably painlessly without anyone noticing. The potential for abuse with such an implementation is staggering, and any attempt to close that security hole would ander their use as a research model pointless; they wouldn't be bee-like anymore.

What humans will probably find out while researching AI, is that creating one with artificial constraints to improve reliability and security will come at the deficit of the autonomy and robustness of the finished product. (Think about it. If you introduce a complicated crypto system as the surrogate for the environmental factors that alter bee behavior, then the rate of behavior modification in the dynamic system will be greatly reduced, reducing the robustness and response time of the swarm to changes in their work environment. The bees become less efficient. If scaled up to more complicated AI, like holy-grail strength strong AI, such constraints would effectively lobotomize the construct through compounding inefficiencies.)

While interesting as a research tool, I don't see any robots with an organic-inspired processing system ever getting the greenlight from regulatory agencies.

Scale this up (3, Insightful)

teaserX (252970) | about 2 years ago | (#41519211)

These don't have to be limited to just RoboBees. The algorithm could be used for more than just pollination. Think about it. Build anything of the appropriate size to autonomously go out and collect $RESOURCE, return with a load, refuel itself and go back out. Some cursory self-defense, like hazard evasion, would be nice. Throw in some networked communication to help with discovery of sources and you have a very efficient way to accumulate stuff.

Re:Scale this up (3, Interesting)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41519359)

Logistically, if the swarm could not manufacture new units, and or, collect and repair damaged/errant units, the system has serious vulnerabilities.

take for instance, the human greed factor.

If there is a huge swarm of autonomous robots out scouring riverbed sandbars for teensy gold nuggets, or some other discrete but scattered and valuable resource, how long do you think it would be before unscrupulous people tried to trick the bees into dropping the cargo off at a "new" dropoff point?

Where there is profit, there will always be dirty dealing and crime. Look at the internet for instance, with something seemingly as harmless as email. Then along came the spammer.

Autocollecting robot swarms would be a smorgasboard for whitecollar criminals.

Re:Scale this up (1)

teaserX (252970) | about 2 years ago | (#41521483)

Autocollecting robot swarms would be a smorgasboard for whitecollar criminals.

That's why we're also working on the escort model: Flying RoboShark with frickin laser beams on thier heads.

Re:Scale this up (1)

Peristaltic (650487) | about 2 years ago | (#41521811)

The algorithm could be used for more than just pollination. Think about it. Build anything of the appropriate size to autonomously go out and collect $RESOURCE, return with a load, refuel itself and go back out. Some cursory self-defense, like hazard evasion, would be nice. Throw in some networked communication to help with discovery of sources and you have a very efficient way to accumulate stuff.

If they're going to include these behaviors, they ought to model Weaver ants instead.

oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41519217)

I, for one, welcome our new robotic bee overlOH GOD THEY'RE SWARMING

Oh GOD, NOT THE BEES (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41519235)

Maybe it could also lead to some research in to bee behaviour.

Hell, even try replace them in nature. Immortal robotic bees, take THAT biology. Now how can you collapse if bees can't die?

It'll never happen. (1)

dohzer (867770) | about 2 years ago | (#41519293)

Shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo make me realise we will just never understand the human brain.

Re:It'll never happen. (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 2 years ago | (#41520247)

Shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo make me realise we will just never understand the human brain.

Shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo make me think that the (average) human brain isn't that complicated after all.

Tonight on SyFy... (2)

Zephyn (415698) | about 2 years ago | (#41519307)

Irwin Allen and James Cameron proudly present:

THE SWARMINATOR!

Obligatory Simpsons (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#41519311)

Homer: Bart, you’re coming home.

Bart: I want to stay here with Mr. Burns.

Burns: I suggest you leave immediately.

Homer: Or what? You’ll release the dogs, or the bees, or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you? Well, go ahead—do your worst!

Re:Obligatory Simpsons (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41519421)

Burns: Release the robotic Richard Simmons.

Do bees know something we don't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41519321)

What would a bee's brain know that a human brain does not?

Re:Do bees know something we don't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41525589)

100 ways to help plants masturbate?

I, for one, welcome, our new (1)

Sneftel (15416) | about 2 years ago | (#41519327)

emphasis on fidelity over complexity in neural simulation.

Excellent! (4, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 years ago | (#41519371)

Maybe these ones will be resistant to Monsanto products...

Frank Herbert's The Green Brain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41519383)

Herbert's book is the first thing that I thought of when I saw the title.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Green_Brain

At first I thought the name of the project was a coincidence. Then I thought that someone on the team was a Herbert fan. Then I realized that the project is actually trying to do something like what the book describes. Huh.

The problem with programming a brain.. (3, Interesting)

andydread (758754) | about 2 years ago | (#41519591)

may possibly be the approach many of these very smart researchers use. Perhaps the focus should be on developing some kind of artifical nevous system with the abitlity to learn on its own rather than trying to program for the dynamics of real world interaction. Perhaps the folks over at Boston Dynamics [bostondynamics.com] may be on to something? Not sure what its learning/memory capabilites are but it sure seems to behave like it has some kind of nervous system.

Re:The problem with programming a brain.. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41522093)

It looks like they are actually trying to simulate a bee's brain at the neuron level (the article is light on details). This is the latest trend in strong AI, to simulate a brain at the neuron level. There are a lot of problems and difficulties involved, and inevitably the emulations are only crude approximations of real neurons that the researches hope is good enough. But if it works, the brain should have some learning capability.

Re:The problem with programming a brain.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41522853)

Although this may produce a useful robotic bee, I suspect the more important goal of the research is to learn more about how brains work. Apparently brain-emulation technology is to the point where emulating an entire bee brain in real time is feasible (or, at least, is a feasible near-term research goal). Being able to simulate a brain in real time means that scientists can get full information on the neurons and, if it acts like a bee, confirm that they have correctly mapped out the important parts of a bee brain (we have a limited understanding of exactly how detailed brain simulations need to be to work).

Characterizing this as a step towards strong AI just seems like fluff to make the article sound good that the scientists would probably be surprised to read themselves.

Re:The problem with programming a brain.. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#41526685)

Apparently brain-emulation technology is to the point where emulating an entire bee brain in real time is feasible

It's not. They are emulating a simplification of a bee's brain. Everyone else doing brain modeling is simplifying things as well. Do the simplifications make a difference? This is a question no one actually knows.

Why not simulate the world too? (1)

OGmofo (189475) | about 2 years ago | (#41519657)

Why go through the trouble of building an actual physical bee, when there are awesome 3d world and physics models that you could drop the bee brain into and it would have no idea the world was simulated. Seems like that would bee a lot easier debug. *cringe*

anonymous reader uses AI to share news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41519799)

...by posting on slashdot.

"the project is trying to advance the science of AI beyond systems that just follow a predetermined set of rules, and into an area where AI systems can actually act autonomously and respond to sensory signals."

This isn't possible. All existing and future software is a predetermined set of rules responding to sensory signals.

Re:anonymous reader uses AI to share news (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#41520015)

Natural system software incorporates rules that have builtin support for uncertainty.

Ever wondered why it takes so goddamn much processing power to fold a model of a protein? (They don't call brownian motion a "random walk" for no reason you know.)

The nervous system of that bee is fudementally influenced by biochemical interactions at thousands of locations, each incorporating a degree of randomness into the system. Instead of treating the randomness as noise, the design utilizes the randomness as an asset.

This inherent incorporation of randomness would make artifical nervous systems based on it abhorrently difficult to reliably and consistently program. Rather than programming, it would be training, and the robots would naturally develop naughty habbits, just like their biological counterparts do.

A really sophisticated one would be a health and safety nightmare.

Monthy Python - Eric the Half a Bee (2)

Master Moose (1243274) | about 2 years ago | (#41520219)

Is this a wretched demibee,
Half asleep upon my knee
Some freak from a menagerie?
NO! It's Eric the half-a-bee!

Use and abuse of Use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41520287)

SInce AI doesn't yet exist, it dosn't make sense to talk about "using" AI.

We're doomed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41521165)

Have they not read "Prey"

Release the hounds! (1)

the_humeister (922869) | about a year ago | (#41526351)

But did they also make robot dogs as a robotic bee launching platform when they bark???

I've seen this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#41527557)

I'm a grad student in mechanical engineering at a university - we had a speaker here who was a friend of one of the professors talking about exactly this sort of thing.

Best talk I've been to in a while, possibly ever. He did a TedX talk and his name is Mandyam V. Srinivasan - a quick google search should pull it up. Fascinating

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