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Robotic extra intelligence?

  1. Feb 19, 2012 #1
    I did not know where to put this so you can move accordingly.
    It seems like whenever people visualize aliens, we think of bug head big eyes, or some sort of nasty looking creature.
    My question is, is it possible for aliens to be ROBOTS? I don't mean robots as in, another race built them, but i mean NATURAL robots that came from the earth it self, through evolution.. Are robots natural? They are made out of the same particles as humans, so how can humans be natural and robots aren't? Is it possible for a robot to come from a rock planet? Our earth has all the elements needed to make a robot. Silly question, but can an alien race be robots?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2012 #2
    Who makes the first robot on Robotworld?
  4. Feb 20, 2012 #3
    How come one has to make a robot? Why can't a robot evolve? What makes humans more natural than robots? We all come from the earth...

    Would it be fair to say, who made the first human on HUMANWORLD?
  5. Feb 20, 2012 #4
    an ecosystem could evolve from terraforming nanobots

    (I suspect that this actually happens quite often)
  6. Feb 20, 2012 #5
    Interesting question. But it leaves me wondering why you or anyone else would refer to them as "robots", rather than "a new type of life form" if found on Mars or even on Earth. It would help if you would define "robot" in this context.
  7. Feb 20, 2012 #6


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    As noted above, you should really define carefully what you mean by robot. But I'm going to assume you mean something like the traditional idea of a robot.

    The reason you wouldn't find something like that naturally ocurrring is that it isn't composed of autonomous parts, or reducible to simpler things. Let me illustrate what I mean by comparing this to our life. Our life evolved slowly over billions of years of much simpler organisms mutating and evolving. It's only in a very rag-tag fashion that complex organisms, like humans, come to be. Robots, by contrast, are traditionally thought of as highly structured, organized systems. They have no smaller parts (cells) from which they could be put together -- you would literally have to evolve the entire robot in one go to get them to show up. And of course, this is fantastically improbable. It's a lot easier to cook up one self-replicating DNA molecule than it is a giant metal guy.
  8. Feb 20, 2012 #7
    Cut off portions of a human brain which give us emotion and pain, we'll have a human that acts like a robot.
    Note, even robots need eating (power) also. So certain new mechanism is needed by which a human-robot will feed himself without hunger pains and avoid self-destruction without fear.
  9. Feb 20, 2012 #8
    A robot is a combination of components that are manufactured. Those components have to be machined/produced from a design and then assembled in a certain order. Plus there needs to be some "force" that puts these components together.

    Why it works for life on Earth I can't begin to explain. It does take some "leaps of faith" in the production of life.
  10. Feb 20, 2012 #9
    So all life forms in the universe have to be centered around "blood" , "water".?
  11. Feb 20, 2012 #10
    Of course not. But again, could you please explain/define the meaning of "robot" in the context of your question. Then we can go on.
  12. Feb 21, 2012 #11
    When I refer to robot, i mean operating on circuits, mechanical.. I guess some problems I could see are, how would they eat and get energy without a human source? Or would robots even need energy to survive?
  13. Feb 21, 2012 #12
    Unlike humans, a robot might not need energy to survive. It could just go dormant, like a car that is out of gas. But of course, it would need an input of energy in order to function in any sort of dynamic way. How do you suggest that they might get this energy in a realistic way?
  14. Feb 21, 2012 #13
    Aliens have to be natural and they have to evolve somehow. You seem to be asking whether a mechanical robot can just appear like that. If we are talking about an advanced, complex life form, it has to evolve out of something simpler. This can well be flesh and blood or other organic matter. As has already been said, that's probably the easiest way.

    At a later stage of development, the flesh and blood can be substituted with stronger and more reliable materials. That's what man is doing right now. If we go on like this, our descendants will be robots visiting other planets. Can easily already have happened somewhere and somewhen. Unlikely in our vicinity and time though. I wouldn't get hung up on what an alien is made of, she just has to function and have a purpose.
  15. Feb 21, 2012 #14
    Evolution requires a form of life that can reproduce, and can introduce very small, random changes to its offspring. The 'fittest' offspring, then, become the dominant species in a particular area, and so on and so forth.

    So, sure, there might be a form of life on other planets we do not yet know about. But for it to evolve, it has to adhere to the above principle. As far as I'm aware, for any reasonable definition of robot, robots don't do this.

    Unless, of course, the 'first' robot has been programmed to do just that. And that would bring us back to 2milehi's question, namely: who makes the first robot on Robotworld?
  16. Feb 21, 2012 #15
    We did. I believe there are a couple of them roaming Mars. They don't reproduce, but theoretically it's possible. The point is, the original design could be flown in.

    In this case, it would be a good idea to program them to repair, reproduce and adapt themselves, which means design change. Aliens in the sense of the OP implies highly advance life forms, so the evolutionary process is anything which works well and serves a purpose. Adaptation is usually necessary to survive.
  17. Feb 21, 2012 #16
    perhaps flown in to terraform the planet, eh?
  18. Feb 21, 2012 #17
    Agreed. I think this would be an interesting experiment (and I suspect it's one of the goals in AI research). However, the OP was refering to completely autonomous robots that were never created by anyone:
    Which I think is impossible. (And if we're going to be pedantric about it: implausible. *Theoretically*, I can envision that a fully-programmed robot could be created by any sort of random collision between planets - that sort of thing. But the probability of that is pretty much zero.)
  19. Feb 21, 2012 #18
    That's what he wrote, but if they evolved, they had to be created by someone, for example their evolutionary predecessors. Robots can't just appear, they have to evolve which means being created. It's not necessary to hypothesize how different their predecessors were or where their predecessors came from. The OP is just talking about non-organic life forms which have developed somehow.

    I think he has hit the nail right on the head, because that is probably what we are going to do, if we can last long enough. The only question will be, will there be room for both life forms? I would prefer to stay here and let my robotic cousins colonize other worlds. No necessity to terraform for them, Granpa.
  20. Feb 21, 2012 #19
  21. Feb 21, 2012 #20
    Here's my highly speculative reply:

    I believe that the reason why aliens or other non-terrestrial life forms would not be "robots": i.e. made of inorganic matter is because of the nature of life.

    What is one of the fundamental features of "life"? One of the most fundamental features of life in terms of both empirical observation and simple conceptual analysis is that of adaptivity. I do not believe we can make sense of the concept "life" without that of adaptivity.

    Now my reasoning runs as follows:

    Because life must be adaptive, it must store information in some physical form. As we all know, information can be stored in both inorganic and organic matter, however one of the distinctive features of organic materials is their thermal senstivity in a relatively narrow range of temperatures. This is the blessing and curse of organic matter as a choice for life. By virtue of being easily thermally deformable it is easy to affect the functioning of an organic system by adding energy and changing the entropically favorable state, which can lead to problems with homeostasis or can lead to cancer, hence curse. This is also the blessing, because in order to adapt to the environment the organism must sense and react to its environment, which means "updating" its information content fluidly. This, I believe is the benefit of organic matter for life. It is more thermally efficient to enact a chemical reaction to slightly change the "temperature" (to the extent that we can speak of temperature) in the area and adapt to its environment.

    "Robot" matter, on the other hand, is mostly intrinsic and extrinsic semiconductors characterized by, structurally, being atoms in a lattice. Lattices, of course, are often known for the strength of their bonds. So when designing computers and adding software to them, we don't want the functioning of the computer to be effected by the thermal substratum, so a strong not-easily thermally deformable material would be easier to deal with, however if you want to be able to fluidly change "your own" structure, being built of a strong lattice may not be the best choice.

    So, the distinction and inter-relations between the physical dynamics and the information storage, the "hardware" and "software" is more important for "life" then for "robots".

    This is of course highly speculative, and could be wrong, because there are ongoing AI resesearch porgrammes that use adaptive behavior in inorganic matter, so evidently the way I am using adaptive is not quite identical. May be more general or of a different type. Also, the reproduction process would be difficult for inorganic matter for pretty much the same reasons.
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