Monday, 15 December 2008

Robots & music... danger?

The human brain is thought to process different aspects of music in many different parts of the brain, some of which are specific to music and some which are not.  One consequence of this is that the brain can relate sequences of music to pieces it has heard before.  A professor at Plymouth University has build some robots that can similarly recognise music sequences, as well as imitate sounds.  The robots effectively learn their own rules for what is musical.  However this is not simply useful in the context of music.  It should help autonomous robots to agree collaborative strategy in order to perform a task together.  This task could itself be learning! Future machines will not need programming in the traditional sense.  They will learn what should be done themselves.  As such they will need no humans to program them.  That could be very convenient when the robots are doing 'good' things.  It might be very difficult to stop them when they learn to do more undesirable things.  Let's hope that they learn some ethics too!

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