Abstract for a talk at Robotix97 by
What is a "robot society"? From our own experience we know quite well what a
"human society" is, namely not just a collection of individual human beings
who gather accidentally at a certain point in time and space. It's rather
a structured group. The smallest group which we know is the "family", its
members have close contacts and long-term relationships. The same individuals
can belong to several other groups, at different levels, up to what we
call "society". In a society, in addition to one-to-one contacts we find
one-to-many, many-to-many etc. interactions and communication between
members. The common point in what we call "group" or "society" are common goals,
conventions, interests. Cooperative behavior,
division of labour, traditions and culture (e.g. educational
systems) could only develop in groups of individuals. They result in new
patterns of life and living (thinking and behavior). Therefore, I only like to
apply the term "robot society" to groups of robots which share common
interests, which cooperate and communicate in order to 1) increase the
survial chances of the individual ("selfishness"), 2) increase the "fitness"
of the group(s) which they belong to, as an entity. Additonally, in
"family-like" small group structures, helping and caressing occurs without
any obvious "benefit", it can (at least for humans) has a quality in itself
In my talk I will outline possible applications where groups of robots
can cooperatively solve a task better, or survive longer, than one single
robot (see the biological model of social insects, bees, termites etc.).
Moreover, I will introduce my own research on robot societies, which is much
inspired by work in biology and developmental psychology on social
behavior, i.e. it is more inspired by mammal-type societies. My work on
"artificial social intelligence" focuses individual relationships"
between robots in a hilly landscape, including topics like recognition
of conspecifics and imitation. The realization of these systems is along
the "artificial life" direction, e.g. I am studying how local interactions
between simple components can result in complex structures on
the next, more global level (e.g. a complex pattern of behavior).
The big challenge is to find mechanisms which exploit the characteristics
of complexity in artificial matter. I outline how this can be studied
with a group of small robots in the "hilly landscape scenario", where
small robots can move up and down hills, recharge batteries, communicate
and recognize each other.
K. Dautenhahn (1995) Getting to know each other - artificial social
intelligence for autonomous robots. Robotics and Autonomous systems
K. Dautenhahn (1997) I could be you - the phenomenological dimension of
social understanding, Cybernetics and Systems