Machines Inherit Human Minds

Hans Moravec
Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Institute
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Our first tools, sticks and stones, were very different from ourselves. But many tools now resemble us, in function or form, and they are beginning to have minds. A loose parallel with our own evolution suggests how they may develop in future. Computerless industrial machinery exhibits the behavioral flexibility of single-celled organisms. Today's best computer-controlled robots are like the simpler invertebrates. A thousand-fold increase in computer power in this decade should make possible machines with reptile-like sensory and motor competence. Growing computer power over the next half century will allow robots that learn like mammals, model their world like primates and eventually reason like humans. Depending on your point of view, humanity will then have produced a worthy successor, or transcended inherited limitations and transformed itself into something quite new. No longer limited by the slow pace of human learning and even slower biological evolution, intelligent machinery will conduct its affairs on an ever faster, ever smaller scale, until coarse physical nature has been converted to fine-grained purposeful thought.