Robots will help to enhance human intelligence
The new species
All truth passes through 3 stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
The Robotarium X assumes robots as a new species, with which we already share the planet. This species is yet at its first steps of evolution and shows many shortcomings. Among other drawbacks, it did not yet develop a true autonomic process. But that is a matter of time, not of purpose.
To show real autonomy, robots must accomplish the following minimum requirements:
a) Be equipped with an independent body
b) To accumulate energy by its own means
c) Be able to gather data directly from the environment
d) To avoid danger situations, blockage and prevent damaging components
e) Have the capacity to self-restore small harms
f) Learn from experience
Only from these basic conditions, a more advanced intelligence, capacity of reproduction and an embedded process of evolution can be considered.
Currently, we are the only evolution agents of robots, doing a job somehow similar to nature, though without the same patience and thousands of years of empirical investment. It is therefore a controlled evolution and, in that sense, rather incoherent.
Most of current scientific investment in this area is directed to top-down creations of configured robotic entities, for the satisfaction of immediate human interests and totally subject to our own will. Humanoid robots, those with more evident public success and a more bright short-term economic future ahead, are ment to reproduce human behaviors and to accomplish some social and cultural functions, such as hard work, public service, elderly and sick assistance and entertainment. To generate a singular robotic life based on such anthropomorphic trends is complex and may turn out to be slower than it is currently advertised. The creation of self-sufficient robots with unique morphologies, simpler emergent behaviors and a more resilient way of life seems to be much more promising. This kind of robotics will probably stem from recombination between nano and biotechnologies, computation, random and emergent processes.
But futurology is not needed. Current reality is already overcrowded with many intelligent machines, though very gauche and frequently deceiving. Anyway, the new species is born, among us and grows. In a process somehow similar to the Cambrian explosion when Earth is "suddenly" occupied by bizarre life forms, most with strange shapes and feeble sustainability, but that in fact drove the course of evolution. Robots are not far from that, rehearsing the first attempts to its existence. Some may recall the Hallucigenia, an unbelievable "thing" full of thorns and tentacles of dubious function, that around 500 million years ago had its fifteen minutes of fame just before vanishing into the deep kingdom of the primitive fossils. Others look like agitated amoebae reacting to environmental stimuli or look like insects, spiders, fishes, dogs or imitate this stubborn anthropomorphism of ours. There are also some that experience the adventure of their own nature and come to light in shapes and behaviors quite unique. All of them set up a new kind of life that is here to stimulate and challenge us.
A kind of life that will only be fulfilled once it manages to acquire its own freewill and be detached from us. I don't fear that moment. On the contrary, the emergence of a new kind of life form, as much or more intelligent than us, will boost humanity’s own evolutionary process. Intelligence confrontation means increment of global available intelligence.
The process of generating a new kind of nature is thus unstoppable.
The construction of an "artificial nature" is not a novelty in human history. The urban environment, in which humanity lives at present time, is a kind of nature largely artificial, a Nature 2.0.
Cities with their buildings, streets, constructions, networks, communications and endless social and cultural interactions are an invention of our particular form of life.
The novelty with the Nature 3.0 that we are now in the process of creating is that it is inhabited by artificial organisms that will compete with us for intelligence, planetary transformation and space exploration. Nature 3.0 competition will not be anymore about territory, food and sex, or in modern terms, wealth, power and sex, but for intelligence amplification.
Our loneliness is about to end.