Talking Robots: Inman Harvey

Posted 28 Feb 2008 at 10:15 UTC by mwaibel Share This

In the latest interview in the Talking Robots series we take a good, hard look at the philosophical side of building robots. Inman Harvey from the Center for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics as well as the faculty of the Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems Group at the University of Sussex describes robotics as an extension of the dream of artificial intelligence: To try and recreate in a machine something that replicates some, hopefully many of the properties of living creatures. As he points out, "it is sometimes tempting to get immersed in the technical details of how to build machines that do particular things. But [...] one has to stand back and think at a far more deeper level than that, because inescapably when you are trying to recreate something autonomous and in some sense living [...] then clearly this requires you to take some considered thought on what it is to be alive. And these are not just technical questions, these are philosophical questions." Inman Harvey feels that as a roboticists it's not good enough just to waive your arms and say 'I think this is a good idea'. You have to actually try it out and see if you can get it to work. As Harvey is the first to admit, philosopher's talk is cheap, so listening to this interview may not provide you with many answers. But it might make you look a little bit closer next time you see your favorite robot in action. And it might get you interested in some of the work done in Sussex.

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