Will we ever… create intelligent robots?

- We made you ‘cause we could.
- Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?
In Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s film about a space expedition searching for the origins of human life, the elegant, Lawrence-of-Arabia loving android David discovers from a crew member the possible motives behind his own creation – and understandably finds this less than inspiring.
But the idea of creating intelligent robots has fired human imagination for decades. These robots have taken many forms in speculative fiction, from the seductive charms of Futura in Fritz Lang’s masterpiece Metropolis to the urbane, existential angst of David in Prometheus. In reality, though, how far have we progressed towards being able to create an intelligent robot just “’cause we could”?
To understand where we are now, we have to go back about twenty years, to a time when artificial intelligence research was in crisis. Rodney Brooks, then a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote a landmark paper in 1990 stating: "Artificial Intelligence research has foundered in a sea of incrementalism… small AI companies are folding, and attendance is well down at national and international Artificial Intelligence conferences... What has gone wrong?"

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