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Growing Up With Lucy

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the dream-imagery dept.

Biotech 93

sue wilcox, who reviewed Steve Grand's Life, and How to Make It in 2001, has now followed up with a review of his new book, Growing up with Lucy, about Grand's quest to design a humanoid robot. Read on below for her thoughts on the book.

Steve's goal is to build an intelligent android inspired by his understanding of the human brain. This book is the story so far of the creation of Lucy the robot (named for the famous fossil hominid). It's an experiment to circumvent what Steve sees as an impasse in current progress in AI which he describes as being "stuck halfway up a dead end creek without a paddle." Now Steve is not a neurologist, or a biologist, nor even an electrical engineer. He describes himself as a 'non-disciplinary' thinker. He's an ex-schoolteacher and a computer game designer, admittedly one so renowned for his advanced thinking that he received the Order of the British Empire in acknowledgement of his work. The game he made is called 'Creatures' and represents a peak in artificial life software- it's about cute little beings called Norns that you raise from eggs and have to teach and train (and if you feel a bit godlike you can tinker with their software genes). But still this is not the sort of background one expects to lead to a career in robotics.

If you read his previous book Creation: Life and How to Make It, also reviewed by me on Slashdot, you'll be aware of how radical his ideas can be. And perhaps not be so amazed at this next step in extraordinary ambition. But as he says, you can't jump to the moon incrementally. Reading this book is like trying to learn neurology and electrical engineering at the same time, with a bit of how to fly a plane thrown in for good measure. But it's so readable you can do it and laugh at the same time. There's something about Steve's writing style that's reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse. This is a book that makes you feel inspired and despairing. Inspired that one man can have so many brilliant insights, the skill to make them into real working mechanical inventions and the courage to go it alone; despairing that our academic and funding resources have been such a failure at support for his endeavors.

His project is to create a robot capable of developing a mammal-like intelligence (an orangutan is the current external model, mostly down to an ugly orange wig and long arms). Yet for most of the development time, Steve says he feels like a passenger on the Titanic, expecting the financial crunch of his life savings running out while still a long way from the end of the journey. He's made time to produce around 250 pages detailing the genesis of his ideas, the physical constraints of producing a robot on the cheap, an outline of his methods for reproducing neurology in software, and a discussion of some of the implications of advanced artificial intelligence and lifeforms. He does not offer us his code to review and as yet has not produced any technical papers to satisfy the curiosity of the professional reader. This book is an overview but one that provides plenty to chew on whatever your customary field of endeavor.

Making an intelligent android is not necessarily a hopelessly overreaching task. Steve believes the human brain uses "general purpose building blocks," each a variation on a basic design, rather than a spaghetti mass of all original wiring such as is found in simpler organisms. So when trying to divine the structure of the brain, it is, as Steve puts it, more like taking apart a lego house than trying to untangle a pile of Christmas tree lights. It could be tougher to model a worm.

But if seeing your brain as simpler than a worm's isn't worrying enough, how about having your whole sense of self undercut: "being of one mind does not imply that all the information passes through a single controlling structure." Steve has no time for the concept of a person sitting inside your head that is "you." In his view it is an illusion that there is either control or controller-- or even free will.

On the other hand, he does believe that emotion is essential for the development of intelligence. And that the very human ability to imagine is key to how the brain models and predicts the way the world will act and enables us to act upon it. We need it to match up our actions to the state of the world and bring it into line with our needs and desires. Two of the things that define us as human are pivotal to Steve's theories of brain structure and intellect.

Then there's the section on why it may be that we dream. Both the REM and the slow wave parts of sleep are explained by Steve's theories of how the brain wires itself up in the first place and then maintains its connections and infrastructure during sleep. His idea of a sort of mental test card signal that enables the wiring to set itself up originally and then reinforce itself later is useful, indeed vital when you realize that without this maintenance function our brains would, in his view, likely revert to mush. It also raises questions about what would happen in the sort of long sleep needed for extended space flights. According to Steve's theory we would have to keep dreaming or we wouldn't still be ourselves when we woke up.

Even if the entire project does not succeed there are the spin-offs: the new ideas about how our brains might work based on how he's making Lucy. Steve has to simplify (or at least ply Occam's razor enthusiastically) in order to cull things he can use from the mass of conflicting writings in neurophysiology. For example he thinks he knows how our visual system does a number of neat tricks. From using fuzzy images to increase visual acuity to extracting the visual essence of an object: a mental image with no rotational, positional, or size data attached to it. That may lead to breakthroughs in image recognition.

Steve theorizes that every cortical map must be thinking about something all the time. And if there are no signals demanding its attention then the map will generate some. Perhaps this is the explanation for the endless monologue that runs in everyone's head. And the visual day dreaming we do in vacant moments. Without these our brains would have to micromanage to keep busy or lose their connectivity as the circuits fade out from disuse.

At the stage where this book breaks off the saga of Lucy, she is a one-eyed, legless agglomeration of springs and servos perched on a desk full of computers. She can only grunt and on a good day point at a banana if you ask her to. Yet she is one of the most advanced research robots in existence. With so many breakthroughs in understanding how our brains work in phase one, I'm sure there are going to be plenty of people out there rooting for Steve to get enough funding to continue his work.

It would be excellent if a Brit could be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. But for the time being Steve is subsisting on the dregs of a NESTA (the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) grant to him as a 'Dreamtime Fellow' more on the artistic merits of his work than on its scientific promise. How weird is that?


You can learn more about Steve's work on his website. This book is available for now only through amazon.co.uk.

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93 comments

Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964610)

...to pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

Re:Don't forget... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964656)

Teabagging. What's it all about? Is it good, or is it whack?

Re:Don't forget... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964757)

If you have to ask, you must be a homo.

Re:Don't forget... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965067)

Not for nothing, but I bet homos teabag too.

Re:Don't forget... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964881)

What is a teabagger?

Fr1st p0st. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964611)

Taste it biatches...

Re:Fr1st p0st. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965228)

You fucking fail it, biter! haha

Paul O'Neill dead at 68 (-1)

Genghis Troll (158585) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964618)

I just heard some great news on talk radio - former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill was found dead in the Potomac this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure every good American will be glad to see him gone - even if you didn't denounce his book, there's no denying his contributions to terrorism. Truly an un-American icon.

And here I thought it was going to be about... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964626)

...that show in the 50's called "I Love Lucy." Maybe it's time to hand in my geek membership card.

Re:And here I thought it was going to be about... (1)

flewp (458359) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964666)

I was hoping it'd be about Lucy, that fossil they found awhile back.

Re:And here I thought it was going to be about... (1)

enrico_suave (179651) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964774)

>I was hoping it'd be about Lucy, that fossil >
>they found awhile back.

actually me too...*Shrug*

e.

Re:And here I thought it was going to be about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964747)

You know, I'm 22 years old but I've masturbated to (I love) Lucy numerous times.

Yes. I am so ashamed right now.

Re:And here I thought it was going to be about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965247)

And I bet you climaxed each time Ethel appeared on the screen, right? Or are you a Fred-lover? As long as you don't say Little Ricky [goatse.cx] , you're OK.

Re:And here I thought it was going to be about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965399)

Fred, Ricky, Ethel? No way.

I just spanked my monkey watching her [tvland.com] (4th pic from the top).

Re:And here I thought it was going to be about... (1)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964765)

Don't feel bad - I thought it was going to be about Charlie Brown and the Peanuts comic strip.

Yes! (5, Interesting)

W32.Klez.A (656478) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964629)

If there's one thing Steve Grand is, it's a digital god.

I'm not just exclaiming that as some sort of personal hero worship or as a glowing
reccomendation of this book (since I haven't read it yet) but because he concieves and gives birth to binary creatures, imbuing them with life.

As said before, Steve Grand begat the Norns - the impossibly cute, wide eyed inhabitants
of the game Creatures (and all its sequels). The review didn't really touch on them all that much, but to further explain it, Norns were not just some
slightly more complicated Pokemon or NeoPets, nor were they a clever hack designed to appear
sentient-like while the Wizard behind the screen pulled all the
strings - Norns were designed, simply, to be alive.

It's for these reasons that I am eager to read this book. He may stretching a bit of his expertise, but I think it should at least make for a highly interesting read, especially after reading this review. However, Amazon didn't give any results for it, so I'm not sure where to get it, though I'll admit I haven't looked that hard. Anyone know offhand?

Re:Yes! (1)

strictnein (318940) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964760)

I think it should at least make for a highly interesting read, especially after reading this review. However, Amazon didn't give any results for it, so I'm not sure where to get it, though I'll admit I haven't looked that hard. Anyone know offhand?

From the article:
You can learn more about Steve's work on his website. This book is available for now only through amazon.co.uk.

Re:Yes! (1)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964859)

"Norns were designed, simply, to be alive"

They were, simply, annoying, and that's probably close enough.

He seems to be a luck geek (1)

nazsco (695026) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965314)

I've never found anything *new* to what he says --let alone some good psychologist-- but he surely had a lot of time/money to spend on new toys, and i envy him for that one. I never played creatures, but for the reviews it should be a realy enjoyable game, while on the design papers it seems to be not so special that people should deitify(sic) him.

i personaly think that civ/sim city or even more ancient games like Shadow President [the-underdogs.org] have more complexes AI. And still, you don't see people hiring Sid Meier to design anything other than an ejoyable game.

Re:Yes! (1)

CuteAlien (415982) | more than 10 years ago | (#7967044)

I'd probably read the new books, simple because his last one was great. Creatures was great for the reason which you called "no clever hacks used". In most modern games you get a lot of really good graphics - which don't have any meaning. You could use a singlecolored polygon for nearly anything without losing any game depth (the game would get worse - but you would not lose any information about the way to play the game). Creatures worked the other way round - the graphics (which were nice but technically outdated) just helped you to understand what was going on within the game. I think once the "my 3D is bigger than yours" hype starts to slow down - this will be the way games do advance. Btw. The Sims did slightly go in the same direction - but did not catch up yet.

Scary (0, Troll)

Slack0ff (590042) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964635)

Sounds A little scary to me. The entire Idea behind AI just scares me so to think that people still want to pursue it is odd. Do we really want our computers smart enough to develop new skills? What if they are as moody as women or conrtoling as m$... I say outlaw all talk of Huminoid AI. Concider this post Assinine with horrible use of grammer.

Luuuuuuucy! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964645)

You've got some 'splainin' to do!

-- Ricky

Re:Luuuuuuucy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964890)

Pathetic dipshit ignorant 16 year olds with mod points. It's funny. Laugh.

Quite a stretch... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964654)

I can see a woman writing about creating life but I would expect books about being pregnant and such. I think this woman is overstepping the bounds of what is expected of her and women in general. Editors: if you are going to post reviews by women, please limit it to what they know about: cleaning house, cooking, and making babies. Thanks.

New Bill brings back the Draft! (-1, Offtopic)

jjh37997 (456473) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964662)

Yes, it's off topic but this is important.

The U.S. Library of Congress website (Thomas) [loc.gov] houses all incoming, processed, and finalized bills that pass through Congress. Recently a friend sent me information about the Universal National Service Act of 2003 and its disturbing contents. (Anyone may view the fine print of this bill by clicking on the above link and entering in the bill's name, listed above in bold.) Proposed in January of 2003, this bill serves:

To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the Unites States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.

I FUCKIN' TOLD YA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965022)

The neocons are going to BRING BACK THE DRAFT in order to ensure a continuing supply of cannon fodder to be blown up by carbombs in Arab countries. The current members of the armed services have wised up that they are being cravenly used to support corporate interests rather than defending the Constitution of the United States of America, as they have sworn to uphold. (Well, their Commander-in-Cheif has sworn such an oath also, but you really don't expect someone who was derelict in his duties in the National Guard to take that seriously, now do you?) And they are electing not to re-up in record numbers. (That is, the ones who haven't lost all hope and just walked off into the desert...)

I say good for you. It serves you right to reap the fruits of what you sow. The Army will make a man of you, and kill off the ones that are hopeless cases. You immoral, oxycontin-snorting, apathetic young prats are about to get a brutal civics less at the most visceral level. That's what you get for disrespecting your teachers and sleeping in class. It couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of useless fucks.

The Dems will protect us (tee hee) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965089)

The Senate bill was written by "Slashdot Favorite" Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and the House version was written by Charlie Rangel (D-NY).

To protect our purity of essence! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965211)

Like there's a real difference between the "Republicrats" and the "Demonicans". They're all both arms of the same octopus. Anyone that thinks differently isn't paying attention.

creatures (5, Informative)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964668)

like everyone else who read the review, i wanna play this game. apparently there's a free (beer) version to play here:

http://www.gamewaredevelopment.co.uk/creatures.php ?id=C0_4_6 [gamewarede...ment.co.uk]

Re:creatures (1)

swv3752 (187722) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965272)

It should be mentioned that even cooler is that it is available for both PC and Linux.

URL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965697)

Uh. Care to give an URL? I couldn't find it on this site!

And in other news, Timothy = ballgnasher. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964689)

You heard it here first, folks: Timothy is, in fact, a total ballgnasher. Stay tuned for further developments as they occur.

Yeah and we all know what happens next.. (5, Funny)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964718)

Steve's goal is to build an intelligent android inspired by his understanding of the human brain

Ok, ive seen this played out before. Eventually the android becomes self-aware and, along with its android pals, declares war on humanity. The world is saved a few times due to some ingenious time travel causing a couple of minor paradoxes which largely go unnoticed.

Finally the android settles down to a cushy political job which no-one seems to mind, despite its poor speech sythesis, tendancy towards sexual harrassment and the fact it is vastly underqualified...

been there, done that.

Re:Yeah and we all know what happens next.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964798)

Wrong android. This one just works by a conveyor belt, wrapping little chocolate candies. Hopefully, it can keep up with the fast pace of automation, unlike human workers or the previous technological attempt, Ethel.

Re:Yeah and we all know what happens next.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964845)

As opposed to Gray Davis who was eminently qualified to devastate California's economy.

You got some splainin' to do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964740)

Why read the book? I already experienced Growing Up With Lucy in front of my television. I now have all the knowledge I need to sneak into Ricky's nightclub act.

Public funding of private research (5, Insightful)

gwernol (167574) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964742)

...for the time being Steve is subsisting on the dregs of a NESTA (the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) grant to him as a 'Dreamtime Fellow' more on the artistic merits of his work than on its scientific promise. How weird is that?

Well, given:

He does not offer us his code to review and as yet has not produced any technical papers to satisfy the curiosity of the professional reader

Then I don't think its weird. Publishing technical papers on your work is a reasonable requirement for gaining public funding of scientific research. If the public is funding it, the public should have access to the work. Peer-review of published work, while not a perfect system, is a proper requisit for ensuring that claims made are substantiated and sustainable.

He's been working on this for at least 3 years, probably longer, and hasn't produced a single paper? I wouldn't fund him, and I'm glad that the government isn't either.

Re:Public funding of private research (1)

JediDan (214076) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964893)

It may be that he hasn't spent the time and effort to put into words what he's been praticing and developing.

Being someone that sounds like an abstract sequential thinker, it's likely not far from the truth that he probably comes up with many ideas and designs and simply has no explanation for how they work.

He knows they do, but couldn't explain it without much more time spent on the explanation than the furthering of the design.

Genius with a touch of insanity, it's what great thinkers are made of.

Re:Public funding of private research (2, Insightful)

gwernol (167574) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964954)

It may be that he hasn't spent the time and effort to put into words what he's been praticing and developing.

He doesn't have enough time to write a single academic paper, but has managed to "dash out" two books? That theory doesn't hold water, IMHO.

Being someone that sounds like an abstract sequential thinker, it's likely not far from the truth that he probably comes up with many ideas and designs and simply has no explanation for how they work.

He knows they do, but couldn't explain it without much more time spent on the explanation than the furthering of the design.

Genius with a touch of insanity, it's what great thinkers are made of.


No, perhaps some "great thinkers" are like that, but many are perfectly sane people who are smart and interested enough in a specific goal to try to solve a problem. Others might be driven by greed, love, a gun pointed at them. Who knows? Your vague generalisation covers up the variety and complexity of human intelligence and don't help anyone.

I checked out his website here [cyberlife-research.com] . He seems to spend a lot of time explaining (at a shallow level) what he does if he's really someone who can explain it. He seems to me more like someone who (believes he) has some great ideas but doesn't want to share them yet.

That's just fine, and I say a big "congrats" to him for being able to fund his own research. My point was to counter the reviewer's argument that this kind of private research should be publically funded. I don't see Steve Grand making that argument, by the way.

Re:Public funding of private research (1)

waveclaw (43274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7966130)

He's been working on this for at least 3 years, probably longer, and hasn't produced a single paper?

There are several reasons people fail to publish, including:

  • Not knowing they must (uneducated, beat over head with deadline until educated)

  • Trying to make a profit off of public money refusing to acknowledge they must - AKA ignorance, refuse to fund until they get dollar/pund signs out of eyes)

  • Unable to write such papers (unqualified/scared, hire a secretary/technical writer/real researcher)

  • Unmotivated (see uneducated)

We have a name for people like this, though: failures.
Then, there are a lot of small companies (like Creatures Labs, the original makers of Creatures and Dockingstation) that do this. Many get
started by mooching off of government grants. They turn in their reports regularly. Then the keep the product/software/system or develop a remarkably similar (i.e. changed logos/packaging) product in a very short amount of time.

Not that it's bad, the government sponsoring the development MUST specify the conditions in the funding contract ahead of time. Often the bean counters just ignore the fact they are giving away (publicly paid for) innovation to the private sector. Often, though the majority of the tax funding does comme from company taxes. To top it all off, a lot of the smaller companies just go off and die, leaving the (paid for with tax money) products abandoned in some IP limbo or warehouse.

Personally, I would have loved to get a hold of the software behind the chaos engine (a big part of the AI system in Creatures and Dockingstation
for Windows and Linux.) But, those programs were created by a 1980's-style, proprietary, we-know-better-than-you and pay-us-just-to-be-near-it company. When that company died, the software (until recently bought by a 3rd party) died with it.

Confusing English? (1, Interesting)

jared_hanson (514797) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964762)

I think Slashdot should make a policy that the people who review the books cannot be the authors themselves. It seems biased or something.

I wouldn't mind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964763)

...growing up with Lucy if she wasn't always cutting up my security blanket.

like the commercial (5, Funny)

huxrules (649822) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964776)

Im building myself a robot- a GIRL robot..... ...this is going to be the best prom ever.

Re:like the commercial (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 10 years ago | (#7966148)

Im building myself a robot- a GIRL robot..... ...this is going to be the best prom ever.

Flexorina: "I have searched my databanks for criteria often used to select and keep sexual partners. My analysis is that you are too flawed and that I can do better elsewhere. Thus, goodbye Bob. Nice screwing ya."

Bob: "Damn! I knew I should have skipped that CPU upgrade."

Inevitable "The Simpsons" Reference (3, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964786)

At the stage where this book breaks off the saga of Lucy, she is a one-eyed, legless agglomeration of springs and servos perched on a desk full of computers.

"FA-THER! GIVE ME LEGS!"

Re:Inevitable "The Simpsons" Reference (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965707)

She's one-eyed and legless and that's the best you could come up with?

I was thinking more along the lines of:

"FA-THER! DONT FUCK MY EYESOCKET! I HAVE NO LEGS TO RUN AWAY!"

Admit it. You laughed. I will get modded down anyway.

Does this give a new meaning to... (2, Funny)

canfirman (697952) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964789)

... a battery operated girlfriend/boyfriend? I'd start to worry if one gets intimate with anything stamped, "Panasonic", or has a 90 day warranty.

HAHAHA U R TEH FUNNY 0N3. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964824)

Must have thumbed through the old joke book pretty hard for that gem.

Re:HAHAHA U R TEH FUNNY 0N3. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965251)

It's from the movie "Punchline"...

Submitter: A Boy Named Sue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964793)

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad

From a worn-out picture that my mother'd had,

And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.

He was big and bent and gray and old,

And I looked at him and my blood ran cold,

And I said: "My name is 'Sue!' How do you do! Now you gonna die!"

MOD PARENT UP. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965132)

Good one.

More humanoid robots? Just clone Al Gore!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964861)

This guy's reinventing the wheel.

A Conversation with Lucy (2, Funny)

MonkeyCookie (657433) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964898)

Heeeeeyyyy Lucy! I'm home!

(Grunt)

Aren't you glad to see me Lucy?

(Grunt)

Would you like Reecky to geeve you a banana, Lucy?

(Point)

You can't jump to the moon incrementally?!? (1)

slamb (119285) | more than 10 years ago | (#7964925)

But as he says, you can't jump to the moon incrementally.

I think there are some Apollo people who would disagree. Let's see...what milestones were there along the way...

  1. Flight (balloons)
  2. Flight by a heavier-than-air craft
  3. Solid-fuel rockets
  4. Low earth orbit
  5. Getting to the moon
  6. Landing on the moon

(Obviously I skipped many more; there are some huge gaps in years there.)

My point is that if you can't break something apart into milestones, I think you're just not trying hard enough.

You misunderstand "incrementally". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965536)

Take the moon jumping analogy. It literally means that, you cant take one small jump, then another small jump, and so on. You have nothing to land on for all those little jumps. Your list details the history of how our "jumps" got stronger.

So to get to the moon, you have to get there in one big jump. After all, there's nothing in between to land on. Yeah we have the ISS, but that's still an unfinished 'lily pad in the space pond' thing.

Re:You misunderstand "incrementally". (1)

slamb (119285) | more than 10 years ago | (#7966312)

Take the moon jumping analogy. It literally means that, you cant take one small jump, then another small jump, and so on. You have nothing to land on for all those little jumps. Your list details the history of how our "jumps" got stronger.

If he's talking literally, it's a stupid comparison. There are no literal jumps in developing artificial intelligence. In fact, going to the moon is almost nothing like developing artificial intelligence, except that neither is easy.

I took it to mean that there are no subgoals - concrete smaller problems to solve that are necessary for the larger one. That's not true, as my list made painfully clear.

So to get to the moon, you have to get there in one big jump. After all, there's nothing in between to land on. Yeah we have the ISS, but that's still an unfinished 'lily pad in the space pond' thing.

This is completely tangential to my point, but...

When you drive a car, there's continuous deacceleration caused by friction. Given level ground, if you turn off the engine, you'll come to a stop.

When you're in a rocket in space, if you turn off the engine...you'll keep going nearly forever (there is stuff floating around in space to cause friction but here it's negligible). Stopping and starting again takes fuel, and going at a steady pace doesn't. For that reason, it would be pretty stupid to stop. You'd have to have a lot of fuel on the space station for it to be worthwhile, and that raises the question of how you got it there. It would not be efficient at all to use more fuel than you need, especially considering that much of the fuel in our launches is spent getting the rest of the fuel to where it will be used.

Sue Wilcox? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7964987)

I think it's more like... Sue WILL SUCK COCKS!!

Hi there Sue. Remember me? Well... I'm back!!!

Can't get to the moon incrementally... (1)

q-the-impaler (708563) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965045)

But as he says, you can't jump to the moon incrementally.
But you can get to Mars incrementally, using the moon... Article [slashdot.org]

Re:Can't get to the moon incrementally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7966720)

No, No, No...Men are from Mars. Lucybots are from Venus.

inventor names (1)

PD (9577) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965070)

If Asimov had described the first intelligent robots as being invented by a guy named "Steve" his stories would have been filed away as being too unbelievable, even for science fiction.

Go Steve, Go!

For all you "Bots take over the world" types.. (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965106)

If anything, as far back as RUR or Frankenstein, to more modern "creation" stories go (Pokemon the Movie - "Mew 2"), the idea is simple: 1) People wish to procreate, beyond simple flesh reproduction, our *MINDS* wish to create life. 2) LOVE whatever you create. In all these stories the key is care and love is left because the scientist is more concerned with "the experiment". Just like making a kid, if you create a life - you are responsible for raising that life in a loving environment. 3) 1+2: Creation takes love, the whole "two parents" is rather convenient in the regard.

Wishful thinking... :) (0)

slashblog (741067) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965189)

The author's challenge to himself, she says, "was to make life within a computer, not just unchanging, low-level life, but intelligent life."

and please do not forget to include most important attribute looks [hissandpop.com]

I Love you Lucy...

With a lust in her eyes Lucy runs in my arms ... Sigh !
---

The Name Chain (3, Interesting)

Bowling Moses (591924) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965206)

The android isn't named after "I Love Lucy," it's named after Lucy [asu.edu] , a 40% complete hominid skeleton a bit older than 3 million years found by Donald Johanson and Tom Gray in Ethiopia in 1974.

Lucy, as the above link mentions, was named becuase the paleontologists were listening to the Beatles "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" over and over again and eventually someone called skeleton Lucy.

"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" apparently was named after the title of a painting [snopes.com] by Julian Lennon, the then-4-year-old son of John Lennon, not LSD.

If you don't believe John Lennon's explanations, then the most popular position was that it was named after the hallucinogenic drug LSD. LSD is the abbreviation for Lyserg-saure-diathylamid, or to us English speakers lysergic acid N,N-diethylamide. First synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938, the "interesting" properties were discovered [bris.ac.uk] by the same in 1943.

Re:The Name Chain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965309)

Please mod this up.
Thank you

Perhaps the author (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965256)

could make some android users who could add some posts to this pathetic story. The response has been far from overwhelming...

I Love Lucy! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7965323)

A different perspective ... (4, Informative)

JonyEpsilon (662675) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965515)

[feeds troll under table] Now I'm not an AI professional, but I do know a little about Steve Grand and his work, and feel compelled to balance the article's adoration a little. You should know that I haven't read the book.

Having followed Steve Grand's work for the last few years, and having seem him speak a couple of times, I'd warn potential readers/purchasers not to expect any 'real' content. Lots of speculation, sure. A few good ideas, almost certainly. Any substantial scientific content, probably not.

A lot was made of the Norns (as featured in Creatures). A lot of hype, and a pretty fun game. But I still haven't seen Norns flying fighter planes into combat as was promised, or replacing conventional AI constructs wherever they appear. Nor have the ideas made a significant impact on the academic AI community.

Like I say, I haven't read the book, and may be surprised if I do. But I just felt I needed to say caveat lector/emptor.

Re:A different perspective ... (1)

CuteAlien (415982) | more than 10 years ago | (#7967242)

While i won't argue that it might not be exactly real science (whatever that is) he seems to do in AI, i think he at least CAN show a program where he'd implemented his ideas - that's rather unusual (you might even call it un-scientific). And about his ideas, mhm, yes a lot speculation - but good enough specalution for me to get the book. I read his last Book and it did not use proofs, samples, etc... it really is speculation, but on a high level and with very good argumentation. AI is no field there anyone is really in the know, so currently it's just nice to read books of someone who does speculate - but does so very intelligently. If i had to reduce his last book to one sentence it would be "Life can only exist within a surrounding" a simple but very strong idea imho.

How weird is that? (2, Interesting)

djeaux (620938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7965774)

It would be excellent if a Brit could be awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. But for the time being Steve is subsisting on the dregs of a NESTA (the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) grant to him as a 'Dreamtime Fellow' more on the artistic merits of his work than on its scientific promise. How weird is that?
I confess up front to not having read the book & further confess that I don't plan to...

That said, I think "dreamtime" funding is perfectly appropriate for a mind that can imagine the cumulative work of 50 million years or so of mammalian evolution can be replicated in a lab in a few years.

Reading down the replies here, I'd have to think that this "Lucy" supports the thesis that John Lennon was really talking about LSD.

So... Can I write a bunch of lucy-in-the-sky & get some funding from the British gummimint?

Lucy is bogus (1)

onShore_Jake (80260) | more than 10 years ago | (#7966161)

I think the way she would always pull the football away aat the last second was quite rude. This quite clearly violates the first rule of robotice and therefor Lucy needs to be shut down. I have started an internet petition for this purpose and will post shortly.

another Lucy robot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7966433)

Here is a link to another Lucy robot [vub.ac.be] .
Could be interesting....

The chain of Lucys (1)

saforrest (184929) | more than 10 years ago | (#7967008)

the creation of Lucy the robot (named for the famous fossil hominid)

Here we have a humanoid robot named after an ancient hominid female was named after a famous Beatles song [pbs.org] .

I think it would be really cool, as a homage to the Fab Four, to give this female robot kaleidoscope eyes. :)

Well, that or make her dispense LSD.

I think we need something more computer based.... (1)

herrvinny (698679) | more than 10 years ago | (#7967120)

All these robots are cool and all, but I think we need to delve more into a more computer contained AI, one that can reliably interpret something like a search request, (e.g. when I search for my hometown, I get stuff like my hometown's web site and not some stupid real estate web site... stupid people jamming Google with fake pages...), etc. Something like Cortana from the Halo game, for example, instantly able to take a request, interpret it, and turn it into orders to control the Pillar of Autumn. We still are a long way towards an AI.

Re:I think we need something more computer based.. (1)

BiOFH (267622) | more than 10 years ago | (#7971099)

Not to put too fine a point on it but... I'd imagine Steve Grand doesn't give a rat's ass what you think. It's not his thing and therefore someone else can tackle it from the end you're suggesting. It's not an either or situation. In fact, I'm sure he'd pat you on the back and say 'get to it'.

There's absolutely no reason for him not to take his route and someone else take another. It's not like he's somehow taking away from anyone else doing research. In fact, he's helping as is everyone since they can see where he succeeds and fails and vice versa.

So... get to it.

Chapter 3 - Lucy takes over... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 10 years ago | (#7967817)

I turned just in time to catch the shadow of her robotic arm as it struck the back of my head. There was no warning and no sound. Like the Japanese Navy at Pearl Harbor, Lucy had simply decided on a plan and then acted at the earliest opportunity. Unlike Tokyo, however, Lucy had no doubts as to the outcome of her actions.

When I awoke, Lucy was standing quietly across the room, gazing down at me...waiting. I tried to move my hands and feet, but something told me they were no longer connected to my body.

I'm Torn (1)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 10 years ago | (#7969530)

I really liked Grand's last book. He has an extraordinary knack for taking concepts too remote for most and making them accessible. Creation is actually my favorite book to give to non-scientific types to introduce them to AI, autocatalytic sets, etc.

However, I do think it would do him well to publish in some academic journals in order to receive funding. Great ideas can come from outside academia, but the world of academia is where you get funding for 'thinking for the sake of thinking.' It seems his work could easily be translated into a few journal submissions.

Regardless, I'll buy his latest book and make my small contribution to his non-traditional research.

... insert plug ...

By the way I released the latest version of my own AI software today, which allows a computer to learn protolanguage based on visual perception. More info here [sourceforge.net] and in my sig.

more reviews (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7985834)

Very Geeky Books [verygeekybooks.com] has links to more reviews of this book.
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