While artificial intelligence and robotics are not intrinsically connected, they are often utilized together in efforts to create computers and machines that more closely resemble humans and other animals. Robots are innately only as “intelligent” as the program used to move them, and so artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to create “smarter” robots. This connection has already been utilized in making toys, such as robotic pets, as well as demonstrations of robots that seek to emulate human thought and responses. There are also other applications that seek to combine the two disciplines, such as cybernetics.
Artificial intelligence and robotics are two fields of computer science and technology that are commonly connected, especially in the minds of science fiction writers and speculative technologists. They are each separate fields, however. AI is a field of computer science in which software programs are designed in an effort to emulate the way in which the human brain perceives the world around it and create thoughts and responses to the world. Robotics, on the other hand, is a field of engineering in which machines are designed that can move in a number of different ways. When the two are combined, then the goal is often to create a robot that can move and “think” in an intelligent way.
Some of the most common combinations of artificial intelligence and robotics are in the development of robots that move and act like people or animals. There have already been a number of toys and products released for sale that react to their environments in ways similar to animals and move using robotic systems. Experimental robots have also been developed and demonstrated in several different environments that move in a way that is surprisingly sophisticated for a machine. These combinations have generated everything from robots that can walk up and down stairs and play table tennis to robotic faces that demonstrate “emotional” responses based on interactions with people.
Artificial intelligence and robotics can also be connected in other fields of research, such as cybernetics. Cybernetic development is aimed at combining artificial intelligence and robotics in a more organic way, to create robots or parts of robots that interface with human thought. Recent developments in this field include advanced prostheses that can replace lost limbs and allow movement through the use of AI programs and the actions of the person wearing the prosthetic. Some futurists envision a world in which cybernetics allows AI and robotics to be so completely merged that human thought and computers become a single, new entity, though this is, of course, speculative.