Saturday, March 31, 2007
Deb Roy of MIT's Media Lab is recording the first three years of his baby's life with eleven cameras and fourteen microphones. He is attempting to track language acquisition and hopes to use what he learns to teach robots to speak more effectively. Well, yes, fine, though, given the history of artificial intelligence, this will probably be just one more dead-end. What is interesting about this story is the baby in question. The Wired story calls him Dwayne, though this is a pseudonym intended to protect the child - not very effectively, I would have thought, if Deb Roy is a real name. Roy is also going to some lengths to ensure the security of his terabytes of data on Dwayne's development. He doesn't want 'Dwayne' turning into Truman Burbank, the hero of The Truman Show, whose entire life, unknown to him, is a TV soap. But say MIT security turned out to be as effective as that of the Maxx family. Say Dwayne's development is a worldwide hit on YouTube. Say, before Dwayne works out what's happening, they create an artificial world in a huge dome in Hollywood - Dwayne's World. There he dwells, a happy prisoner, watched by humans everywhere and by millions of robots who talk exactly like him.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 6:54 am