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Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual Age Hardcover – 16 Nov 2005
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" ""According to an artificial intelligence expert within years we could be finding robot romance..."" -James Millar, The Sunday Post, February 2006
Unlimited: Life In A Virtual Age by David Levy (leader of the winning team of the Loebner Prize Competition in 1997) is a highly researched and historically impressive documentation devoted to the past fifty years of research and development in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. As an informative and superbly written study, Robots Unlimited offers readers an outstanding historical survey and a seminal reference to the many intricacies of an ever-escalating modern science in these specialized fields, as well as knowledgeable and intuitive predictions of what the future may bring for robotic and artificial intelligence breakthroughs. Very strongly recommended to all students of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and relevant technological advancements, Robots Unlimited gives its readers a complete and expert analysis and collection of such a popular and innovative science. -Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review, April 2006
Interview with David Levy about his new book, Robots Unlimited. -www.chessbase.com, February 2006
But maybe we shouldn't fear robots. We should have sex with and marry them. This possibility is welcomed in a new book called Robots Unlimited: Life in a Virtual Age by David Levy. True, the field of artificial intelligence is bedevilled with all kinds of irritating philosophical objections to Levy's predictions. Is there such a thing as an artificial intelligence? Is robot consciousness nonsense? Could robots really be said to think, feel, fall in love and love the kids? Yes, robots may be able to write passably Mozartian symphonies, perform splendid massages or make sexy chit-chat, but only humans can really appreciate any of them. -Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian, February 2006
""As a catalog of the most important results, thoughts, and predictions in this field, this book will be an entertaining read for anybody, as no prerequisites are assumed."" -G. Trajkovski, CHOICE Magazine , June 2006
""In this popular approach to understanding AI, David Levy captures the essence, excitement, and potential of Artificial Intelligence."" -Innovation Watch, May 2006
""There are interesting chapters on computers and religion, computers and emotions, computers and dreams, computers and sex, computers and ethics. There is a lot to think about in this book for both you and your computer."" -Vairo Library Blog, November 2006"
Consider this - Robots will one day be able to write poetry and prose so touching that it will make men weep, compose symphonies that rival the work of Mozart, judge a court case with absolute impartiality and fairness and converse with the natural ease of your best friend. Robots will one day be so life-like that a human could fall in love and marry one. Is it thought provoking and controversial? Certainly. Is it far fetched? Not at all. In this popular approach to understanding Al, David Levy lays the factual foundations for his intriguing speculations by presenting the history of Al from its inception. He then considers recent advance and makes predictions for the future of Al.See all Product description
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All of the professionally written reviews of my book have been positive. See, for example,those on the publisher's web site (www.akpeters.com), one of which is reproduced on amazon.com but for some reason did not get posted on the amazon.uk web site.
Having said that, this is a nice book to read, clear in its historical analyses but cloudy in its philospohy.
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But intelligent machines do not have to take the form of humanoid robots. Hollywood and science fiction novels are partly responsible for this attitude, as are the philosophers, who insist upon the Turing test as being a genuine test for machine intelligence. It is evident when reading the book, especially the last part, that the author will not be convinced of the existence of intelligent machines until they do most, if not all, of the things that humans do. This includes the ability to make love, the ability to reproduce, the possession of legal rights, the possession of consciousness, and the ability to feel emotion and fall in love. A machine taking the form of a humanoid robot that was able to do all of things would certainly qualify as being intelligent. But there are many other types of machines, some of which exists today and are working in the field, that qualify as being intelligent, even though it is a different type of intelligence than what most humans are used to (or would acknowledge as such).
This observation raises another issue that is noticeably lacking in this book, as well as in the history of artificial intelligence in general. This issue involves the adoption of a quantitative definition of machine intelligence that will allow its measurement. If one is to judge the progress in artificial intelligence, it is necessary to define criteria, possibly informal, for assessing to what degree one machine is more intelligent or of higher quality than another. The criteria must also be able to distinguish an intelligent from a non-intelligent machine. The Turing test is not entirely suitable as a criterion, since it emphasizes, somewhat myopically and exclusively, human intelligence as being the most objective measure.
After careful study of the history of artificial intelligence, in this book and many others, as well as research papers, and through the development and practical use of `algorithms' that are deemed to be intelligent in some way, this reviewer arrived at an informal classification scheme for intelligent machines. Sometimes this scheme allows the quantitative measurement of machine intelligence, a `machine IQ' if you will, but usually it classifies machines according to what they can do, and to the degree that the machines require assistance from another machine (human or not).
For example, one could label a machine `Type-1' if it is an ordinary calculating machine, unable to learn or check its answers, or unaware of its environment. Type-1 machines are uninteresting from the standpoint of artificial intelligence research. A `Type-2' machine can find answers to domain-specific problems and check these answers according to standards given to it from another machine. Type-2 machines essentially need `tutors' or some kind of assistance to evaluate or continue learning. The chess playing machines described in this book, such as Deep Blue and Deep Thought, could be classified as Type-2 machines. The Pinkerton music-creating machine is also Type-2 as are the rule-based music-creating machines discussed in the book.
`Type-3' machines are able to check their answers to domain-specific problems and make judgments as to the quality of these answers, and do independently of any external standards. The Samuel checkers playing machine and the NeuroGammon and TD-Gammon backgammon playing machines described in this book could be classified as Type-3 machines, as would the `metagame' machines that can learn how to play a game given only the rules. Also Type-3 is the bridge-playing COBRA machine, and the Poki poker-playing machine, the Thaler Creativity Machine, the BRUTUS storytelling machine, all of which are discussed in the book.
A `Type-4' machine is one that is able to judge the quality of its answers to domain-specific problems and then propose theories or explanations that subsume these problems. Type-4 machines are thus machines that one could use to conduct scientific research for example. The EMI music-making machine discussed in the book is a Type-4 machine, due to its ability to analyze the structure of the music presented to it, and then extract the composer's style from it. Type-4 machines have been used in automated drug discovery, although this use is not discussed in this book.
Next are the `Type-5' machines, which are able to solve problems in more than one domain, but with their interest in solving these problems is instigated by an external inquirer, i.e. they do not possess any innate curiosity. The `commonsense reasoning' machines of Cycorp, Inc, which are discussed in the book, are examples of Type-5 machines. It is their ability to solve problems in more than one domain that makes Type-5 machines of great interest to many in the artificial intelligence community. Many in fact do not believe a machine is truly intelligent unless it can think in more than one domain.
A `Type-6' machine can express curiosity and creativity, can solve problems without any external instigation, and can develop theories or explanations around these problems. The author discusses several types of machines in the book that could be classified as Type-6, if one omitted the ability to find solutions without being instigated by an external machine or human.
Lastly, there are `Type-7' machines, which can self-manage and self-replicate, and are also Type-6. Self-replication is discussed in the book, but there are no machines to date that are Type-7.
Behind the scenes however, research has been going on to develop the sub-systems needed as a foundation of AI. In this book the author describes what's going on in computers about such critical areas as vision, speech, taste, smell and so on.
The big problem, and what's covered in most of the book are what you might call the thinking components. How do computers think? How do they play games such as chess? Or one of the hot new items, play soccer. Then there are real problems like getting the computer to write fiction? Can a computer be programmed to transpose bits and bytes into thought, or love?
There have been a number of books lately on robotic activities you can do at home. This one is a description of the state of the art in the research labs around the world.