Actually I have to completely agree with your points about the importance of
focusing hard on the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmatic. It's
just astonishing that so many kinds spend six hours a day at school and miss
so much of the basics... the basics are teaching to fish, instead of giving
fish. But, another fundamental I think is the scientific method and
critical thinking. I think that should be taught, rigorously, in high
I didn't mean to suggest line follow robots aren't important. I just hope
this could be, exactly as you said--a building block to bigger and better
As for a non-line following robot:
That's a fun thing to think about. It doesn't feel right to measure
intelligence as a linear property. Each animal evolves differently for
survival in its particular environment. Chimpanzees are said to have
evolved more than humans, since our split from a mutual ancestor (more
genetic mutations, since).
But, I think there are linear aspects as well. One of these is that greater
intelligence necessarily implies greater independence, by definition. To
not do the same thing under the same conditions (such as the rules for
following a line), is to explore other ways. For example, thinking outside
the box. Of course, this predicts that increasingly intelligent machines
increases the risk of them rebelling against us.. Is this ominous?
<going to sound a bit wierd>
One night at a local bar, a physicist friend (Dr. George Lake) and me were
discussing the concept of Gaia and that planets are intelligent life forms.
He said that was ridiculous because if it doesn't evolve it couldn't "get
better" thus become intelligent. I agree the idea is ridiculous, but the
presumption that evolution is the only means to "get better" bothered
me--only because it was a presumption. I pondered the idea for a time
thereafter and eventually came up with a principle I call the "wiggly"
While no physical entity can objectively be said to have a "purpose" in the
universe (without invoking God), everything does seem to have "direction".
For example, a rock flying through space has the direction in which it
flies... normally an orbit around a star or other massive body. A purpose
is, after all, just a direction with a specific end-point (a goal). So, I
postulated that the more complex the direction an entity has, the more
"intelligent" it could become. By intelligent, I mean adaptive to better
achieve its direction. For example, rocks flying around a star might smack
into and push away smaller bits of dust or rocks but maintain its direction.
When I hits something it's momentum cannot defeat, it may shatter eventually
leaving only rocks with stable and secure orbits. The solar system itself
thus ultimately adjusts itself to a state of harmony. Likewise, water has
very complex direction. And a stream of it can overcome almost any obstacle
by twisting and turning and rising above whatever obstacle it in its way.
I imagine this like a key in a key hole. Putting it in and turning may or
may not unlock but pushing and pulling and wiggling while you do it stands a
better chance. Or, prey trying to escape a predator's grip. Vigor alone,
provides an increased chance....
I think evolution is one sub-category of this higher, wiggly principle--a
principle of how entities in the physical world become "better". And so, a
non-line following robot would do well with this principle.
</going to sound a bit wierd/>
On Wed, Oct 1, 2008 at 11:00 AM, Randy M. Dumse <rmd@...> wrote:
> Matthew Tedder said: Wednesday, October 01, 2008 1:06 AM
> > But win or loose, it is a sad fact that robotics
> > projects in universities typically involve little
> > more than line-following robots.
> I think it is wonderful if we have at least line following
> projects at universities. Many useful motion control and
> robotics points are covered by line following.
> It is one of the low hanging fruit, a fairly simple minimal
> machine configuration that demonstrates a motion based utility.
> At least it is a first step. Better than no step at all.
> Likewise I don't think it is sad that grade eschool doesn't
> teach much more than foundational reading writing 'rithmetic. In
> fact, I wish they would stick more to the fundamentals. (As an
> example, in 4th grade, my step daughter came home talking about
> the rain forrest. We asked her if she remembered when we took
> her to the rain forrest? She said she'd never been. Turns out
> the pictures of rainbows and pretty birds didn't register at all
> in her mind with what she actually saw in the Yucatan penisula.)
> I agree with your zeal for advanced projects, but I object to
> any critic of teaching fundamentals to as wide an audience as
> possible, lowering the entry barrier for someone who might want
> to go further.
> BTW, here's a mind twist for you. Can you write a
> non-line-following program? And just how intelligent would that
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