Spring 2003

Lecturer: Rodney Brooks

Time: 9:30am - 12:30pm, Fridays

Room: 4-231

Traditional artificial intelligence has been centered around the idea of representation of the world, while the approach taken in this course is centered around action in the world. Natural intelligent systems are all biological and how these work can not always be understood in purely computational terms. A biological system must be understood in terms of its environment, it ecological niche, and its evolutionary history. At a more proximal level, this involves consideration of what sensors it can use, how its actuators operate, and how its perceptions and the dynamics of its movements are affected by its physical body.

Over the last decade a new school of Artificial Intelligence has developed, encompassing a number of threads including behavior-based intelligence, adaptive behavior, Artificial Life, situated intelligence, and robots for unstructured environments. Almost all of these rely on the physicality of the systems to some degree. This course aims to synthesize these new approaches to Artificial Intelligence around that common theme of embodiment.

This course examines what it takes to build intelligent systems that have physical embodiment and explores the what is possible in the future by considering computational experiments in artificial life. Specific topics include modeling of perception and action systems, fundamental issues in vision and robotics, evolutionary modeling techniques, behavior-based approaches, and pre-cognitive and cognitive architectures. All these topics are examined from the point of view of having a physically embodied system in the world; this both presents unique problems and sources of simplification relative to unembodied intelligence. Other topics in the more abstract domain of artificial life include self reproduction, self repair, autopoesis, pre-biotic chemistry, evolution, cellular automata, and collective behavior.

Prerequisites: 6.001, 6.034, 18.03, 18.06.

This is a graduate class and will be treated as such. The research assignments will often be very open ended and require you to use your initiative to gather resources and organize yourself. There will not be any hand holding from the TAs on this. It will be like being a research student in a research group--you will need to figure things out yourself, or at least figure out how to find the necessary information on the web or in libraries.

There will be significant programming required in this class. If you are scared of writing a few hundred lines of C code from scratch, or being given a few hundred or thousand lines of C code and being asked to modify it then this class is not for you. Basic competence in Lisp is also assumed.

Course Staff:

  Name Office Email Phone Hours
Lecturer: Rodney Brooks NE43-940 brooks 3-5223  
Guest Lecturer: Una-May O'Reilly NE43-933 unamay 3-6437  
Course Secretary: Theresa Langston NE43-942 theresa 2-2651  
Teaching Assistants: Eduardo Torres-Jara NE43-937 etorresj 3-7471 Mon 6-7pm and Wed 5-6pm
  Paulina Varshavskaya NE43-937 paulina 3-7471 Wed 5-6pm and Thu 11am-noon

Class email list: 6836

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