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Pure Novelty Spurs The Brain
Now, researchers Nico Bunzeck and Emrah Düzel report studies with humans showing that the SN/VTA does[ respond to novelty as such and this novelty motivates the brain to explore, seeking a reward.
Thaler, too, is engineering independent robots. A glossy, black, plastic cockroach named H3 could be the prototype for swarms of bunker-busting robots that could seek out, explore and use collective intelligence to defeat an enemy target. The U.S. Air Force has contracted Thaler to create such robots.
Robots, including Mars rovers, have been programmed with artificial intelligence before, Thaler said. But those robots require human engineers to program in leg movements and rules for getting around obstacles. Each unique encounter requires new programming, new rules, and time.
H3 gets no tutelage from Thaler at all. A sonar beacon beckons the robot, and H3's legs begin to flail. Every time the robot makes a movement that carries it closer to the signal, it learns the value of the move. Within a few seconds, the cockroach coordinates enough good moves to scuttle toward the signal.
But Thaler hasn't stopped with robots. Creativity Machines can solve just about any problem in any field, he says.
A Creativity Machine used two neural networks to study toothbrush design and performance. A brainstorming session between the two produced the idea to cross the bristles of the toothbrush for optimal cleaning. That toothbrush became the Oral-B CrossAction toothbrush.
In one weekend, a Creativity Machine learned a sampling of some of Thaler's favorite Top 10 hits from the past three decades and then wrote 11,000 new songs. Some are good, Thaler said. Miller confesses to being haunted to one of the melodies in a minor key. Other offerings are the musical equivalent of a painting of dogs playing poker, Thaler said.
But computer-composed music doesn't have to be bad. Human mentors with good taste could train a critic network to grade the Creativity Machine's songs, punish it for bad tunes and reward it for harmonious melodies. The feedback would hone the machine's composing skills.