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The Robo-Coach

A few years back, when my writing partner and I were working on our book, we had a series of discussions with programmers about artificial intelligence in non-player characters. That led us out to MIT, where we spent a day…
June 8, 2005

A few years back, when my writing partner and I were working on our book, we had a series of discussions with programmers about artificial intelligence in non-player characters. That led us out to MIT, where we spent a day getting demonstrations on how researchers were using animal simulations to help “train” the computer to think.

Over the next few years, I had the chance to edit a series of stories on how researchers were going one step further: using biology to inform how robots can move, including this story which we published in Technology Review last week.

So, I was particularly delighted to read a story in yesterday’s New York Times (with kudos to Brittany Sauser for sending this along).

Roaches Aid in Robotic Innovations
In an article from the New York Times, Garnet Hertz, a graduate student at the University of California has found a simple solution to robotic navigation by creating Robo-Roach.

The Madagascar hissing cockroach, which can grow as big as a mouse, rolls around in Hertz’ three-wheeled cart that rises about knee high, and steers the contraption by running on a modified trackball (really).

Hertz’ motivation came from other robotic pioneers – such as MIT’s Rodney Brooks – who have suggested that robot intelligence should be similar to that of roaches and other insects that react quickly to their environment.

Deep Dive

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Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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