Machines Like Us (Sept.-Dec. 2004)
We are here to conduct an experiment. What if we were to theoretically construct tiny machines, attempting to wire and design them for survival in a natural environment? What if, as they grow more complex, they begin to show signs of intelligence? What if we, their creators, could no longer predict the actions of our little experiments? The growth our machines undergo can easily be viewed as a representation of human evolution. Early vehicles bring to mind cellular organisms swimming about, motivated by basic needs such as motion and food. As we design more ambitious models, they begin to form IDEAS about their surrounding environs and the good or bad qualities therein. Natural selection is also introduced, allowing only those with the best survival skills to carry on. Eventually, we can even construct them to exhibit INTUITION and PREDICTION, leading to OPTIMISM in their decisions. Our machines begin to behave in ways even we, their creators, could never have predicted... We look at the ways in which our creations (wired only with the most basic of materials) begin to exhibit behaviors an outside observer could easily regard as intelligence. Perhaps through them we can come a little bit closer to understanding the basic precepts of human intelligence.
"This is an exercise in fictional science, or science fiction, if you like that better... Or just science, if you agree that fiction is a part of it, always was, and always will be as long as our brains are only minuscule fragments of our universe, much too small to hold all the facts of the world but not too idle to speculate about them." Valentino Braitenberg