Robotic evolution

\n

\nAs New Scientist Tech points out, it will soon be possible to "evolve" colonies of robots that are able to think, act and even pass on their robotic DNA to future generations:


\n\n\n \n \n\n \n \n \n \n \n\n \n \n

"Robots that artificially evolve ways to communicate with one another\nhave been demonstrated by Swiss researchers. The experiments suggest\nthat simulated evolution could be a useful tool for those designing of\nswarms of robots. Roboticists Dario Floreano,\nSara Mitri, and Stéphane Magnenat at the Swiss Federal Institute of\nTechnology in Lausanne collaborated with biologist Laurent Keller from\nthe University of Lausanne.

\n\n

They first\nevolved colonies of robots in software then tested different strategies\non real bots. Both simulated and real robots were set loose in an arena\ncontaining two types of objects – one classified as "food" and another\ndesignated "poison" – both lit up red. Each bot\nhad a built-in attraction to food and aversion to poison. They also\nhave a randomly-generated set of parameters, dubbed "genomes" that\ndefine the way they move, process sensory information, and how they\nflash their own blue lights... Their "genomes"\nwere combined and randomized in a way designed to mimic mating and\nmutation and used this to create the next generation robot."

\n \n \n\n \n \n

With a nod to Charles Darwin, the Swiss researchers are calling the process by which "smart" robots live and "dumb" robots die "unnatural selection."

\n

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

Videos
  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
Keep reading Show less

Vikings unwittingly made their swords stronger by trying to imbue them with spirits

They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.

Shutterstock
Culture & Religion
  • Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
  • To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
  • They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less