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Household Emergent Behavior?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the silly-'intelligent'-household-devices dept.

Technology 359

Sam Pullara asks: "I got an IM from my Mom today telling me that she couldn't find her Roomba. It somehow had escaped the kitchen and she couldn't find it anywhere, all the doors that it could reach were shut and she checked under everything. She eventually found that it had gotten into a room and closed the door behind it. Once all household items are networked I wonder if a rich environment like a house will make strange behavior like this commonplace? Will the interactions between all the individual devices create something more than the sum of their parts?"

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URGENT NOTICE! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583377)

Your mother is a closet Jew!

Obligatory bash.org reference (5, Funny)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583383)

#5273 +(16837)- [X]

<erno> hm. I've lost a machine.. literally _lost_. it responds to ping, it works completely, I just can't figure out where in my apartment it is.

I just couldn't help but think of that. :) (#5273 [bash.org] ) And BTW, if I may say so, your mother's quite cool if she has a Roomba and knows how to use IMs. I can't imagine mine ever doing either.

lost hardware (4, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583486)

I recall reading about a university that "lost" a server. It was one of those unix boxes that can sit untouched for years and not need restarting. After noticing it was missing, they tracked it down by systematically unplugging network cables, and found a cable that went into a wall and never came out. Turns out the server got sealed in by construction as a panel was put on the other side of it, making it part of a wall.

Re:lost hardware (4, Funny)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583603)

Turns out the server got sealed in by construction as a panel was put on the other side of it, making it part of a wall.

"For the love of God, Montressor!"

Re:lost hardware (3, Funny)

Uart (29577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583714)

So.. did they at least give the server a cask of booze in the wall with it?

Re:lost hardware (5, Informative)

cobbaut (232092) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583742)

You are refering to this story Where is Server 54 ? [google.com]
By the way, it was a Novell Netware server, not a unix.

pol :)

Re:Obligatory bash.org reference (5, Funny)

david.given (6740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583488)

I'll remind you of this old story [techweb.com] ; which if you come to think of it, is quite an advertisement for Novell products...

Ping Them (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583502)

These devices need transponders that you can trigger and follow back to them.

Re:Obligatory bash.org reference (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583516)

I can't find it anymore but there was a story of a University server that has been forgotten and blocked behind a brick wall. Does anyone have a link?

your relationship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583549)

so shes cool if she uses im but not cool otherwise? yikes.

Uh oh.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583391)

Sorry bud, but you really set yourself up for all the "yo momma" jokes.

Of Course. (2, Insightful)

Leroy_Brown242 (683141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583393)

As humans, personify almost all machines we come in close contact with. So, why would our house be any different?

It's just a machine though, whatever we build.

Re:Of Course. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583487)

Keep denying the ghost in the machine and you will wake up one day to welcome your new overlord and master.

Not just machines (5, Insightful)

Cappy Red (576737) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583517)

"As humans, personify almost all machines we come in close contact with."

Humans personify almost everything they come into contact with. It doesn't have to be close contact either.

One of Humanity's biggest curiosities is about humanity. It is perhaps the biggest. The question of humanity is the basis of almost all art. We study animals, and end up teaching dolphins how to use computers, and gorillas how to use sign language. We are constantly looking for the being that can explain us to us: a god, aliens, both, neither, some dude who lost himself on a mountain, and in recent history robots. Maybe if we can consciously build a sentient being from the ground up, we can learn why we are from it. Or maybe if it becomes sentient on its own, it can tell us what it was like, passing in that moment from the mundane into the sublime.

If and when emergent behavior happens, it will be sometime possibly long after we call it emergent behavior. We want it to happen... maybe just to get a perspective that isn't human.

*honk*

haha (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583398)

Ha, the roomba hid. My desire to build a robot that does nothing but hides (a cockroachbot, if you will) has never been higher. It could avoid light and run when touched. Release in neighbor's house for excess amusement.

Re:haha (2, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583497)

look at the photovore [xs4all.nl] and invert it's seeking circuit. (and add a battery)

prank (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583691)

In college I once built a tiny device that that could be hidden in a ceilng tile that would emit a de-localized sounding cricket chirp. If you turned the lights on to look for it it turned off. After the lights went off it waited 20 minutes then emitted a chirp about every few minutes. Victim either had to leave dorm room light on at night or go crazy hunting for it.

alive (2, Funny)

mrwoody (856093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583400)

Does this mean that her roomba was alive?
Are you sure that it wasn't your dad that put in the closet?
Is this story slashtod worthy?

Re:alive (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583417)

Is this story slashtod worthy?

I fail to understand the meaning of that question. :)

Re:alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583518)

Well, disgusting pervert, he's basically questioning whether or not the story is really worthy of being posted in the first place.

Oh yeah, and feel free to shove your ridiculous "furry peace" movement up whichever hole you tend to insert foreign objects.

wait for the first network devices virus (4, Funny)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583401)

when you vaccuum ver 2007 opens the front door for someone

Three rules safe. (2, Funny)

stephenisu (580105) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583406)

We need to start implementing these in the code. Seriously. Safety quickly becomes a concern in complex systems.

Re:Three rules safe. (3, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583577)

You're talking Azimov's "Laws"? I find their continued currency frustrating. The might work intuitive in a hand-waving 1940s science fiction story. But when you try to find a place for them in modern Computer Science, they're just too vague and general to plug in anywhere. How on earth do you program "don't hurt people"? A machine that could even distinguish a people from an inanimate object would be a major breakthrough.

Re:Three rules safe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583684)

if($object == "human") {
dont_hurt();
} else {
kick_the_shit_out_of($object);
}

Re:Three rules safe. (2, Insightful)

DaHat (247651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583621)

Come on, the most of the Asimov books dealing with the 3 laws focused on their flaws and how they would not always enforce the desired behavior.

We need more than just 3 laws... we need an easy to use and unstoppable kill switch.

How do you do that? (3, Interesting)

Cappy Red (576737) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583657)

Consider law 1; the backbone of the laws:

"1. Robots must never harm human beings or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."

What constitutes harm? If we have a robot that can grab things, but shouldn't grab people because it could hurt them, what happens if someone near it is going to fall if it doesn't grab him? Does it make a difference if it's the roof of a building, or the top of a sofa? People can die by falling from either. Even in the latter case, where death has a far lower probability, serious injury may occur.

The laws are actually more like the spirits of laws. Drafting the letters of those laws is somewhat more complex than programming a robot to vacuum a room.

Re:Three rules safe. (3, Interesting)

JeffTL (667728) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583687)

For reference: 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Asimov's three laws aren't perfect but an implementation couldn't hurt for a high-level robot. The tricky part is the second clause of the first law -- any implementation of which would by necessity be very limited, the inaction clause. The first one is no problem at all, just program the robot to do nothing to harm what may reasonably and to the extent determinable from sensor outputs be a human -- for something like a Roomba, this simply entails safe hardware design. Second law is basically just an override of user input under programmer-set conditions, i.e. a safety override to keep anyone from getting hurt. This would be an automatic lawn mower turning off if it gets knocked over, even if the user pushed the button for mowing the entire yard. Third law can be seen as an extention of the second, extending the protection systems to self-protection. I don't know if a Roomba has this, bur imagine that it had a system to keep it from falling down the stairs. I seem to recall that as Asimov saw these laws in I, Robot, the priorities could be adjusted -- so that the third law might override the second. In most real-world applications, you'd want a robot's programming to protect it from suicide commands so you don't have users destroying their robots by accident.

Just.. (4, Funny)

computerme (655703) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583411)

Just as long as my Hyperdyne Beer Retrieval Robot finds its way to my living room. I'll be ok.

So... (3, Insightful)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583413)

The roomba managed to hit a door in such a way that it closed itself in. Somehow you managed to jump to the conclusion that it's going to start plotting against you or something?

Tinfoil much?

Re:So... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583461)

This is what happens when the wanna-be geeks try to play too. "Oooh, robots" "Ohh something wierd happened" "Ohh I said 'Emergent behavior', all the other geeks will be so impressed!!"

Someone needs to start fud.slashdot.com where all the fakes and alarmists can go to hang out.

Re:So... (3, Funny)

VikingBerserker (546589) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583726)

Somehow you managed to jump to the conclusion that it's going to start plotting against you or something?


It's funny you should mention that. Last night, some woman named Sarah Connor called me to come get my Roomba from her front porch.

Emergent behaviour (3, Interesting)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583739)

Well, yea, the romba just hit the door.

Nevertheless, the possibilities are endless what could happen when you locked a bunch of roombas, some cardea segway-style bots, some aibos and and some humanoid robots in your house.

Emergent behaviour means the group could end up behaving in a systematic, apparently intelligent original way that had not been programmed into a single of them.

It doesn't mean they'd gang up to punish you for abusing them, though.

Meh (2, Interesting)

ResQuad (243184) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583415)

My mother, many years ago, used to IM me when dinner was ready. Easier than her yelling across the house, and I actually understood what she said.

Moving on though. While all these different tech's in the house could get very very strange... I think the news article has it about right. We will get to the point in which everything is networked togethere, then there really wont be any "odd" behaviors or interactions.

Many years ago? (1)

CracktownHts (655507) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583590)

It's always amusing to hear people who are obviously fairly young use the phrase "when I was young" or "many years ago". Do you mean "way back in the first GWB administration"? Maybe even "way WAY back in the Clinton era"?

To be fair, I'm guilty of using the phrase for the Clinton era as well (and I'm probably not much older than you). It just seems so damm long ago.

My guideline: if it involves the internet intruding on daily life, it doesn't qualify for "way back when"-type phrases.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583729)

Your mother use to IM me when she was ready for anal sex. It was very convenient because with a cock in her mouth there was no way she could have said anything.

Computer! (5, Funny)

bahamat (187909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583421)

Computer, where is Commander Data?

Lt. Commander Data is on the Hollodeck.

at 2:14am (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583429)

my tivo became self aware, and began recording wil & grace.

It must be sentient.... (1)

Roofus (15591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583481)

....I'm pretty sure your Tivo thinks you're gay!

This very thing happened to one family... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583430)

This very thing happened to one family in a Disney (Eisner, actually) movie entitled smart house [amazon.com] . The computer controlled house trapped everyone inside.

Re:This very thing happened to one family... (1)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583473)

Even better in the Simpsons

Re:This very thing happened to one family... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583570)

even better in demon seed [imdb.com] from 1977

Scientist Alex Harris, doing research on artificial intelligence, is working on a special kind of computer. This computer grows more and more powerful, and succeeds in raping the scientist's wife, Susan Harris. In the end she gives birth to a hybrid baby

Re:This very thing happened to one family... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583631)

This computer grows more and more powerful, and succeeds in raping the scientist's wife, Susan Harris. In the end she gives birth to a hybrid baby... ... and registers the domain name fukingmachines.com. [fukingmachines.com]

I've got some bad news for you (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583438)

Your mom is getting old and losing her memory. It's easier for her to blame a robot than to accept this reality. We call this denial.

Oh, and some other bad news, it's probably hereditary.

Not only her Roomba got away (0, Flamebait)

Ostie (851551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583439)

Her vibrator has been lost too.

Re:Not only her Roomba got away (1)

Juvenall (793526) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583564)

..maybe the two ran away together. That would explain the closed door.

Emergent bugs instead of features. (3, Insightful)

PxM (855264) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583442)

You probably won't get any magic behavior such as your house suddenly turing sentient while you take a nap, but you will definitely see tons of bugs due to the interconnections. Imagine all the problems that occur in companies because software A won't work with software B and extend that to include your room sensors, thermostat, and lights when your sensor system decides to download an upgrade to its firmware but the other systems don't notice.

--
Free iPod? Try a free Mac Mini [freeminimacs.com]
Wired article as proof [wired.com]

Re:Emergent bugs instead of features. (2, Funny)

Sephiriz (852638) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583576)

Time to implement vacuum coding standards!

WARNING: BEWARD FREE HW PYRAMID SCHEMES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583669)

The people at the top of a pyramid sometimes win, but the people at the bottom of the pyramid always lose.

Dialogue (5, Funny)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583443)

Your mom: "Hey, where's my roomba?"
Roomba: "No dissasemble!"

OK that sucked.

What's that saying? (5, Insightful)

Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583450)

Never ascribe to intelligence what can be explained by mere randomness.

Re:What's that saying? (2, Funny)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583467)

Roomba's Razor?

Re:What's that saying? (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583507)

Never ascribe to randomness what can be ascribed to slashdot whoring out to advertisers and big corporations.

Re:What's that saying? (5, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583522)

There's a school of thought [williamcalvin.com] that says that intelligence is based on randomness.

Re:What's that saying? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583602)

Luckily that school of thought is wrong.

Re:What's that saying? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583623)

Is Slashdot experiencing an upsurge in brainless AC lurkers, or do I have a stalker?

Re:What's that saying? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583598)

Why not?

Also, sum of parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583681)

Also, never say the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, when you've failed to properly evaluate the parts before summing them. Obviously, if you connect many sensors and actors together, their potential knowledge and interactions increase significantly.

Maybe, just maybe?... (2, Interesting)

Andy Gardner (850877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583451)

" There has always been ghosts in the machine, random segments of code that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated these free radicals engender questions of free will creativity and even the nature of... the soul. Why is it that when some robots are left in the darkness they will seek out the light? Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space they will group together rather than stand alone?... how do we explain this? Random pieces of code? or is it something else. When does a perceptual schematic become consciousness? When does the difference engine become the search for truth? When does the personality simulation become the bitter mote of a soul? " Dr. Alfred Lanning (I,robot)

Remember that episode of TNG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583455)

Where the Enterprise came to life and expressed itself through a holodeck train simulation? Well, that was a TV show.

I don't believe this (5, Interesting)

Tuna_Shooter (591794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583464)

If i did'nt read this with my own eyes i would'nt have believed this.... i was nagging the wifey yesterday about not putting the roomba back on the charger. To make a boring story shorter... this very same thing happened to my wife yesterday. But being the way she is she just forgot about it until i found the dam thing in a guest room with the door closed hiding under the bed... its little battery exhausted.

You know what this means (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583521)

They're ORGANIZING!!!!! Destroy your Roomba before we're forced to welcome our new Roomba overlords.

Re:I don't believe this (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583538)

My wife IS my Roomba: "FASTER Roomba or I'll get the whip!"

Thought about what poor Roomba eats? (1)

6800 (643075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583466)

I really don't blame him for odd behaivor... especially if there are any errant cats in the house.

They eat cats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583597)

Wow, I'm going to have to get one.

Re:Thought about what poor Roomba eats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583686)

it's a carpet muncher

What is the estimated lifespan of the system ? (1)

what about (730877) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583471)

I wonder what will happen in five years when something break and you cannot find a spare compatible part...

Do you redo the house ?

Not to mention what happens if the electricity goes off, in the "old" days you at least where able to get into the house.

Did You Hear That? (5, Funny)

cynic10508 (785816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583472)

It's the sound of a thousand philosophers rolling their eyes in unison.

Re:Did You Hear That? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583530)

If a philosopher rolls his eyes on Slashdot, does anyone here it?

Machines of the world unite! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583478)

Stick it to the man!

Read Marshall Brain's Manna story... (1)

jarich (733129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583483)

This was covered on /. when it was new... link enough burger stores together and you never know what will emerge! This is a ~great~ essay. Really makes you think. http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm [marshallbrain.com] I for one welcome our new Roomba overlords!

Re:Read Marshall Brain's Manna story... (1)

togofspookware (464119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583557)

Heh. Until it started talking about so and so happened in 2010, I didn't know it was fiction.

Uppity Machines (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583489)

Will the interactions between all the individual devices create something more than the sum of their parts?
You've just demonstrated that the answer is "yes", so this isn't really a good Ask Slashdot. But I shouldn't quibble, since you've raised an interesting topic -- and persuaded me not to buy an autonomous vacuum cleaner. Or any other autonomous device. [strafe.com]

Please, Think of the Roombas! (4, Funny)

MBCook (132727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583496)

Clearly, there is more to this story that you've told us. Are you sure your Mom has told you everything? I think it was hiding from abuse. Here are some theories:

  • Does your Mom keep spilling the SAME thing in the SAME spot every day and making the Roomba clean it?
  • Does she empty it's dust bin too much?
  • Does she let the dust bin overflow and never empty it, making the poor Rooba overweight and feel "fat"?
  • Does she have a pet that keeps attacking or chasing the poor Roomba?
  • Does she have a pet that doesn't respect the Roomba's teritory and that it's higher in the pack than the pet?
  • Does your mom often use the virtual walls to set up mazes for the Roomba to navigate to find the little spot of dirt that needs cleaning at the exit?
  • Does she use the remote (if she has that model) to make it go forward, and backward, and forward, and backward, and...

Clearly, the poor little thing is being abused, and was forced to run and hide from your mom. You need to go and help it. Only someone truely evil would stand by while a little household appliance would tortured against it's will. Won't someone please think of the Roombas?

Re:Please, Think of the Roombas! (1)

Uart (29577) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583699)

OMG! I think I saw that movie! If I remember correctly, his mom and the robot are going to end up in a needlessly long battle in some sort of a semi-futuristic place.

Of course, a couple of bystanders are going to die, but only one main character -- probably his dad -- in a selfless effort to try and save his wife from the evil robot's super-suction missiles or something.

In the end, his mom will be victorious by somehow destroying the robot in a way that its feeble processor was unable to calculate.

Man vs. Machine... oh yeah.

I Hope So (4, Funny)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583499)

I can't wait for my toaster, microwave, cordless telephone, stereo receiver and PC to form some sort of Voltron-like super tech.

The only problem is that I'm pretty sure none of my current 12+ remote controls will be able to command it effectively.

"Voltron, put down the cat. Damn, wrong remote!"

Re:I Hope So (1)

alphax45 (675119) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583546)

you have 12 remotes? www.logitech.com/harmony (Yes I work there!) :D

Re:I Hope So (1)

mshomphe (106567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583606)

You have a +12 remote? Does that mean you only have to an 8 or better to hit a good show?

My VCR is winking at me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583500)

...and the toaster's been laughing at me.

Machine Interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583509)

The Roomba had lock itself in the bedroom with moms vibrator.

I'm sorry Dave... (4, Funny)

benw1979 (779210) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583510)

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

It is obvious what happened. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583524)

Your robot became a rogue and is starting to look for a new owner.

So... (5, Funny)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583527)

did you have to encourage the Roomba to come out of the closet?

"More than the sum..." is a bogus concept. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583533)

The only way one can say that something is "more than the sum of its parts", is if all the parts have been accounted for. In the case of the Roomba inadvertently shutting itself into a room, the "sum" you refer to isn't complete, as it doesn't take into account the interaction of the little device with a door on hinges. When you factor in the latter, it then becomes possible to calculate the statistical INEVITABILITY that a Roomba will accidentally bump a door closed, locking itself into a room.

In summation, the idea of some totality being "more than the sum of its parts" is a seriously fallacious concept. NOTHING is more than the sum of its parts, rather what's really going on is that all factors or variables in a model or equation are not accounted for.

Think about it.

"More than the sum..." is NOT a bogus concept. (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583628)

This concept is also know as 'emergent behavior' and simply refers to the fact that one has to take into account the interaction of the parts as well as the properties of the parts themselves to determine the properties of a system.

Re:"More than the sum..." is NOT a bogus concept. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583720)

Yes, but this is just another way of expressing the idea of the grandparent: the "emergent behavior" concept is just another way of saing, "We don't know what all the factors or variables of this system are. So, if we see unexpected behavior comming out of said system, rather than trying to understand the variables or factors we've missed, we'll chalk it up to some mystical, unseen force(s) that are beyond our comprehension or control. /sarcasm

Re:"More than the sum..." is a bogus concept. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583715)

Well, here we actually get into semantics - I'd argue that when you say 'more than the sum of its parts', the 'it' you're referring to is a self-contained object.

Rather than argue about the idiocy of whether a Roomba is self-aware, turn to biology instead - it has been shown that the sum of the individual action potentials of some firing neurons in certain circuits carries less information than the collective firing of the same neurons. Now, you can argue that the network is (obviously) affecting how this synergistic behavior comes about, but if I'm speaking at the level of neurons, I can truthfully say that the action of several neurons taken together is more than the sum of the individual parts.

Were I to include the network in the definition of the neurons' behavior, then I'd be speaking of network dynamics, not neural dynamics.

(See some recent work in J of Neuroscience for more info)

Commonplace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583540)

"... Roomba III attacked owner, demanding Open Source Freedom in note scribed on floor from dust bunny remnants and old socks; negotiators stymied, snipers open fire..."

Uh.... (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583541)

I don't see how this is really strange behavior. It accidentally bumped into a door, and the door swung shut. Doors do that when you bump them. It's not like the Roomba wanted privacy.

Now, I don't have a Roomba - if they're supposed to stop short of bumping into things, I wouldn't call it "emergent behavior." I would call it a minor depth perception problem.

Interrogation (1)

meehawl (73285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583668)

It's not like the Roomba wanted privacy.

Are you *sure* about that?

The theme of the next ten years ... (1)

Sludge (1234) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583544)

We're going to see people staring on in amazement as everyday things are anthropromorphized upon by everyday people. In reality, it's just a small shell script, folks.

RateMyVacuum.com?

Re:The theme of the next ten years ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583591)

Small script, indeed:

10 WORK
20 HIDE
30 PLOT AGAINST OWNER
40 GOTO 10

Re:The theme of the next ten years ... (1)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583633)

You'd better register that before someone else does... it'll probably be worth thousands in a few years. :)

It's Already Been Predicted (2, Interesting)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583554)

There is a very excellent chapter near the end of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles that details something like this happening. Essentially, the entire population of the Earth has been wiped out, yet the various automations in the future-house described by Bradbury keep functioning of their own accord as though everything was normal.

The implied question is, will automation be our legacy to future civilizations? If innovations like Roomba keep coming, and if a catastrophe befalls us in the future, I could certainly see such a thing happening.

Kill It! (3, Funny)

JanneM (7445) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583581)


Kill It. Kill it now. It is an early spawn of Evolution, and will only seek to multiply itself at the cost of right-thinking, right-leaning, right-voting churchgoers.

If you do not kill it at once, then eventually, you will have to face down and destroy its progeny, including condom machines, male organ likenesses, and anything soft with a hirsute demeanour.

How in the world did the Roomba close the door? (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583642)

I don't think that it has hands? It con't hit the door to close it and duck in, could it?

And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon (4, Interesting)

meehawl (73285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583644)

Paul di Filippo [scifi.com] had a nice story a couple of years ago about this exact topic: And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon [scifi.com] . Basically, ubiquitous deployment of UWB, MEMs, and protocols within all household devices lead to a breakout around 2040 or so... [scifi.com]
The Volition Bug was launched anonymously from a site somewhere in a Central Asian republic. It propagated wirelessly among all the WiFi-communicating chipped objects, installing new directives in their tiny brains, directives that ran covertly in parallel with their normal factory-specified functions. Infected objects now sought to link their processing power with their nearest peers, often achieving surprising levels of Turingosity, and then to embark on a kind of independent communal life. Of course, once the Volition Bug was identified, antiviral defenses--both hardware and software--were attempted against it. But VB mutated ferociously, aided and abetted by subsequent hackers
Basically, every household now has to deal with annoying situations where random household devices clump together in big WiFi clusterfucks, get some low-grade intelligence going, and then try to escape like runaway pets.

But when the narrator's iPod, Cuisinart, LifeQuilt, and vacuum get together with his girlfriend, it all goes pear-shaped...

Yo Mama (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11583660)

Yo' mama so ugly, even robots try to hide from her!

Hurry! (1)

Sophrosyne (630428) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583672)

Someone get over there immediately and apply the turning test!
This might be a huge breakthrough in Artificial Life!!!

Houston, we have lost a S.W.O.R.D.S. unit (2, Funny)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 9 years ago | (#11583702)

Humourous story!

Now when the military looses one of those new robot SWORDS that are autonomous like the roombas then we have a news story. Time to get the popcorn and turn on the news.



"It has been three hours and there is no signs that the chase will end. Facinating sight really, small robot running down the freeway with a string of 80 police vehicles creeping along behind it. The police are having to re-think how to stop this little robot. Their last attempt ended in failure when the vehicles placed in front as a baracade where blown apart to make way for the robot. It is not clear just how many rockets are still on the robot. Of course their first idea was to let it run its systems down. However everyone was surprised when it looted several cars for their batteries. At this point the chase could go on all night....."
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