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News Link • Robots and Artificial Intelligence

Robot school starts at Pac-Man, ends with world domination

•, Colin Druce-McFadden
 Taught by generations of robots before it, your professor will be the ultimate font of knowledge in its chosen subject. That's the dream of Washington State University professor Matthew E. Taylor, at least. What's more, his robot teachers have already taken the podium for their first lecture. The subject: Pac-Man.

The idea behind Taylor's research is the creation of a true robot teacher, one whose hardware and software don't have to be the same as its student's for it to impart knowledge. Existing solely as virtual robots at present, Taylor's creations teach by giving advice to their equally virtual students. By letting the robot profs give pointers and allowing the student robots time to implement their latest lesson, Taylor states that he has not only seen the transfer of knowledge, but that the student robots actually learn to surpass their teacher's abilities.

With the Pac-Man lessons set up as a sort of robot kindergarten, Taylor plans to eventually create a robot teaching program that will allow even the most complex robots to learn from one another, rather than from humans. He envisions a world where your robot maid can train its replacement and robot soldiers will put each other through boot camp. The real end-game, however, is that robot professor of yours. Once robots can teach humans everything we need to know, they really will have evolved beyond their programming.

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