Peter Cochrane’s opinion piece: “A Measure of Machine Intelligence” in the Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 98, No. 9, pp 1543 – 1545, September 2010 brings out several important points about “robots”. He says:
” A further important observation at this point is the fact that the sensors and actuators have largely been neglected as components of intelligence…sophisticated sensors have only recently emerged as key capability components in robotics, artificial intelligence, and control systems. “
Recently, in a discussion with an up and coming roboticist, I mentioned this fact and he agreed. Sensors and their high fidelity outputs will enable intelligent machines to do the dull, dangerous and dirty work we need them to perform.
Robots will derive their actions from their observations of their constructed world picture. They may use top down or bottoms up approaches to machine intelligence, mobility and goal achievement. Most likely, they will use a fusion of control approaches: high level remote supervisory control for human interaction and goal oriented behaviors and lower level autonomic control for health maintenance, vehicle stability and navigation, failsafes, etc. The key to both is the right mix of task optimized sensors.
The best example of this approach to intelligence is Homo Sapiens although most other fauna and some flora on Earth do a pretty good job as well.