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Humanoid Robotics

Research Issues

Photo: Cog, a humanoid developed at the MIT AI laboratory Cog, a humanoid developed at the MIT AI laboratory learns to recognize and respond to animate agents (including itself).

Will humanoid research propel robotics on to great heights, channeling ideas from diverse fields toward an ultimate goal? Or will the quest to model ourselves prove to be a stumbling block, or worse? We may be our best models of intelligence; but then again, we may also be our worst. Although cognitive neuroscience will continue to contribute much to our self-understanding, we by no means fully appreciate the myriad internal processes that actually produce our intelligence. Roboticist Rodney Brooks has long argued that our view of how we think and act is tainted with subjectivity. 8 We cannot wholly transcend our biased perspective. The best we can do is to neutralize its effect by bringing humanoid bodies in line with our own. Most likely, we will never fully understand, much less recreate everything that it means to be human. As the frontiers of our self-understanding expand, humanoid robots may simply follow (and, at times, propel) our continuously changing conception of what we are


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