Read this story and you may well conclude a robot uprising is right around the corner.
Carl Zimmer’s recent post Evolving Robotspeak describes robotics research done by social evolution researcher Laurent Keller in Switzerland. Plenty of folks have used genetic algorithms to “breed” robots, but this is the first time I’ve heard of someone using family and colony models for their genetics. In a nutshell, if you breed individual robots to find virtual food, they quickly get trained to do pretty well. But if you breed them as families, they do even better. To put it in anthropomorphic terms, their intermingled genetics help them understand the value of cooperation.
It’s fascinating to see the genetic theories of social behavior borne out in a colony of robotic organisms. This Darwin guy may have been on to something after all.