How can a robot learn the foundations of knowledge?

That is the title of the upcoming Informatics Distinguished Lecture on 20th October 2010 by Prof. Ben Kuipers.


An embodied agent experiences the physical world through low-level sensory and motor interfaces (the “pixel level”). However, in order to function intelligently, it must be able to describe its world in terms of higher-level concepts such as places, paths, objects, actions, goals, plans, and so on (the “object level”). How can higher-level concepts such as these, that make up the foundation of commonsense knowledge, be learned from unguided experience at the pixel level? I will describe progress on providing a positive answer to this question.

This question is important in practical terms: As robots are developed with increasingly complex sensory and motor systems, and are expected to function over extended periods of time, it becomes impractical for human engineers to implement their high-level concepts and define how those concepts are grounded in sensorimotor interaction. The same question is also important in theory: Must the knowledge of an AI system necessarily be programmed in by a human being, or can the concepts at the foundation of commonsense knowledge be learned from unguided experience?

Looking forward to it!


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