Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More from the slime mould department

And then there's this, which tops even the Roachbot.

Intelligence without Representation II

From the article:
Japanese scientists claim that amoeba-like organisms have a primitive form of intelligence, following an experiment where a slime mould found its way through a maze.

Reporting in the journal Nature, Toshiyuki Nakagaki from the Bio-Mimetic Control Research Centre in Nagoya showed that a slime mould negotiated the shortest route between two exits in a maze, avoiding three longer paths.

"This remarkable process of cellular computation implies that cellular materials can show a primitive intelligence," Dr Nakagaki said.
I think this supports at least two things: one, Brooks' idea that intelligence with representation is not only possible but is also biologically based; and two, that Newell and Simon's symbol system hypothesis holds up. I would definitely call the behavior of this slime mould--when taken as a unified system--intelligent, as it is able to search through a space efficiently to reach a solution. I think, as Brooks would say, that there is intelligent behavior emerging from simple interactions amongst subunits in the system.

(PS: Definitely take a look at the photo; it is very surreal.)