UAA Complex Systems Group welcomes Dr. Hans Moravec

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Founder of Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute speaks on robot evolution and its implications

Dr. Hans Moravec, robot research pioneer and founder of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute, comes to UAA to give two free public lectures on Thursday, May 3 and Friday, May 4. Moravec is the author of Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence and Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind. He founded Seegrid Corporation, a company that currently markets warehouse tugger vehicles that memorize and automatically retrace routes, based solely on 3-D stereoscopic vision.

"Robot Evolution," Thurs., May 3, 7:30 p.m., Consortium Library, room 307

Mobile mechanical servants have been plausible fantasies for a century, but imitating the perceptiveness, mobility and dexterity of humans or animals has proven deceptively difficult. Electronics and computers in 20th century boosted the effort, but only now, when affordable computers perform billions of calculations per second, are the skills of the smallest animals being approximated. This talk will address the history and the present state of this endeavor and will offer likely future projections. The first industrial machines which are able to see well enough to reliably pull loads through warehouses without special trails or signposts are just coming to market. Over the next few decades, additional skills and intelligence will gradually be added. As a result, multipurpose "universal-robots" with mental power and inflexible behavior analogous to small reptiles will be able to run application programs to do many simple chores. The following decades will see an evolution through mammal-like learning, primate-like imagination and human-like abstraction, so that by mid-century, no human task-physical or intellectual-should be beyond effective automation.

"Robot Evolution Implications," Fri., May 4, Noon, Consortium Library, room 307

By mid-century robots will have developed in such a way that no human task-
physical or intellectual-will exceed their abilities. Machines will quickly surpass humans, as they already do in specialized areas. The world, as we have known it, will be altered beyond recognition. This talk will address the sociological, scientific and philosophical implications of robot evolution.

Complex systems is rooted in science and examines how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behaviors of a system. These lectures are part of UAA's 2007 Complex Systems Lecture Series, a program that brings cutting-edge research in the field of complexity to the Alaska public.

For more information about UAA's Complex Systems Group or the Complex Systems Lecture Series, visit

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