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Robokoneko (robot kitten)

The Robokoneko was a proposed robot kitten ( robot + Japanese ko for "child" + neko for "cat") that was intended to have a remote computer brain containing "neural net" modules that could evolve their intelligence based on experience and prearranged rules. The purpose of the kitten robot was to demonstrate the feasibility of computers that operate as human brains do, building knowledge and taking immediate action based on the newly acquired knowledge. Hugo de Garis, one of the lead researchers on a project that is now apparently defunct, suggested that within several decades, artificial intelligence better than the intelligence of humans would be able to evolve into new artificial intellects that would transcend human understanding. As a first step or "proof of concept" toward an artificial brain with 40 million neurons, de Garis and fellow researchers planned to build a life-size kitten robot with 32,000 neural net cells.

Although some of its brain (analogous to that of humans for reflex actions) would be built into the body, the "thinking" part of the brain would reside in a computer that was connected remotely, probably through wireless communication. The computer version of animal brain neurons was referred to as a small complex of electronic storage known as " 3-D cellular automata." These modules could be loaded with data (rules and facts) very quickly using field-programmable gate array ( FPGA )-based special hardware known as a CAM (cellular automata)-Brain Machine (CBM). Once available, the CBM would be able to use a "genetic" algorithm (or different algorithms) to "build a brain" (load the computer's memory) in about one second.

The proposed robot kitten itself would have eyes that contained video cameras, ears containing microphones, a speech generator, and numerous sensors on its body. It would be able to perform a number of kitten-like movements. A proposed first step was to simulate the kitten with 3-D software. Knowledge Revolution's Working Model 3-D was proposed as the 3-D product. Although not the first computer-driven robot to be developed, the robot kitten was to be the first robot driven by a computer with a neural net architecture.

As of early 2001, the Robokoneko project appears to have been abandoned and is no longer mentioned at the Japanese research site where deGaris is or was employed.

This was last updated in March 2011

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