Japanese Scientist unveils worlds first thinking robot

Osamu Hasegawa, associate professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is working on making Robots that learn from experience and can teach themselves to perform tasks they have not been programmed to do, using objects they have never seen before. In a world first, Osamu Hasegawa has developed a system that allows robots to look around their environment and do research on the Internet, enabling them to “think” how best to solve a problem. The Self-Organizing Incremental Neural Network, or SOINN, is an algorithm that allows robots to use their knowledge—what they already know—to infer how to complete tasks they have been told to do. SOINN examines the environment to gather the data it needs to organize the information it has been given into a coherent set of instructions. The SOINN machine asks for help when facing a task beyond its ability and crucially, stores the information it learns for use in a future task.

In a separate experiment, SOINN is used to power machines to search the Internet for information on what something looks like, or what a particular word might mean. Hasegawa’s team is trying to merge these abilities and create a machine that can work out how to perform a given task through online research. In the future it will be possible to ask a computer in England how to brew a cup of tea and perform the task in Japan. Like humans, the system can also filter out noise or insignificant information that might confuse other robots.Hasegawa points to possible uses in earthquake detection systems where a SOINN-equipped machine might be able to aggregate data from numerous sensors located across Japan and identify movements that might prove significant. In a domestic setting the robot could prove invaluable to a busy household.

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