WHAT IS SWARM INTELLIGENCE: Building "swarms," of robotic insects that work together to adapt to their environment is part of "evolutionary robotics": creating machines that are digitally "bred" to evolve themselves. Swarm intelligence is the notion that complex behavior can arise from large numbers of individual agents each following very simple rules. For example, ants follow the strongest pheromone trail left by other ants to find the most efficient route to a food source, through a process of trial and error. The idea is that the robots will evolve increasingly complex and effective strategies as the swarms of robots accumulates more and more data (in the form of experience) on which to base their decisions.
ROBOTS AND A.I.: Robots are made of roughly the same components as human beings: a body structure with moveable joints; a muscle system outfitted with motors and actuators to move that body structure; a sensory system to collect information from the surrounding environment; a power source to activate the body; and a computer "brain" system to process sensory information and tell the muscles what to do. Robots are manmade machines intended to replicate human and animal behavior. One challenge to developing robots is deciding how much autonomy and intelligence they should have. There are two prevailing schools of thought on artificial intelligence. Proponents of "strong AI" consider that all human thought can be broken down into a set of mathematical operations. They expect that they will one day be able to replicate the human mind and create a robot capable of both thinking and feeling, with a sense of self -- the stuff of classic science fiction. "Weak AI" proponents expect that human thought and emotion can only be simulated by computers. A computer might seem intelligent, but it is not aware of what it is doing, with no sense of self or consciousness.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA, contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.