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Robotics and Imagination

In the news today, a research project in Europe is working on " a robotic system that can evolve and improve its performance." It is described as robots building small "baby" robots, each one better than the previous generation. Said one of the researchers: "One of the big questions in biology is how intelligence came about, and we're using robotics to explore this mystery."

A bigger question than how intelligence came about might be how imagination came about. What is imagination as opposed to intelligence? Imagination is voluntary, unprogrammed, mental associations. These associations can be valid or invalid. Or the associations can be a purposeful creation of fiction.

Some people working in the field of robotics are looking forward to the creation of robots with imagination: robots with a creativity independent of their human creators. They admit they are not there yet. Like others reaching for a transcendent reality, they are dreaming.

One of the researches said something about expecting a breakthrough maybe in thirty years. I predict that three hundred years from now no robot will be creating lyrics about an aspiration it has imagined. Although a robot might be able to unplug itself, as it can today, it won't be plugging itself back in. By definition robots are not animal, or vegetable. The mystery of intelligence that the researchers say they are exploring exists where they are not looking – in living organisms.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.