Chun Chung Cheung


Fall, 2000


Project Topic: Research the development of Artificial Intelligence and how scientists have applied AI in the COG project at the MIT AI Lab. What is the function of the COG Robot? What is the goal of COG project and how COG Robot interacts with human being?




Because computer experts want to make computers work more intelligently to solve more complicated problems and perform tasks as the human brain does, they are developing and researching Artificial Intelligence (AI) continuously. Artificial intelligence technology is used to make machines respond to what they see and what they hear after executing the specific programming and advanced system. Moreover, AI Computers can learn and accumulate the knowledge from human beings and then they can simulate the human response in different situations. Actually AI researchers make machines that study like a baby. When computers store a vast database which is collected from interacting with people, they can be smarter and more intelligent as well as more human (AI on the Web, 2000).


This research paper will focus on the development of AI, the definition of human intelligence, Neural Networks, Artificial intelligence research, expert systems and will explain how computer experts are using Artificial Intelligence technology to make computers perform human-like behavior and interact with people. Moreover, it will describe the MIT AI research project on COG and Kismet, which studies robots and how they simulate human behavior.   


The History of Artificial Intelligence


In 1956 John McCathy became the father of AI. He invented the theory of AI and organized a “Dartmouth summer research conference held in August 1955” (The History of Artificial Intelligence, N.d.) to attract the computer experts and other people who were interested in machine intelligence. The conference invited these people for a month of brainstorming. The conference goal involved the study of a wide range of topics including language use, neutral networks, complexity theory, self- improvement, abstractions and creativity. Although the Dartmouth conference was not very successful, it did bring the computer scientists together and established the groundwork for the future of AI research.


In 1957, the first AI program, General Problem Solver (GPS), was invented. It was able to solve a lot of common sense problems. After two years of GPS, IBM established an expert team to research AI. In 1963, MIT acquired 2.2 million dollars from the U.S. government to be used in researching Machine-Aided cognition (AI). This project attracted many computer scientists around the world to research AI technology. During the 1970's, David Mar proposed a theory about machine vision. It was a machine that could recognize objects with different shapes, color edges and textures.


During the 1980's, more advanced expert systems were developed. Digital Electronics and Xcon, which were expert systems design companies, developed programs running on the VAX computer. The demand for AI decreased in 1986-87 because most AI robot projects performed unsuccessfully. During the 1990's, AI systems were used in the military in missiles and heads-up-displays. Moreover, fuzzy logic and voice recognition systems became more available, so Artificial Intelligence technology will continue to affect our lives.


 What is Artificial Intelligence?


Artificial intelligence is a pioneer of “computer science and engineering of making intelligence machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable” (John McCarthy, 2000). Moreover, AI machines can interact with humans’ thought, natural language, response and expression of emotions.


Definition of Intelligence


Some people think that one person can make a better response to a stimulus than another; this is defined as that person being smarter and more intelligent. Is this true? It depends on how we define intelligence. Some people define intelligence as ”comparative level of performance of a system in reaching its own objective” (Intelligent Systems and Their Societies, 1998).


Nowadays, people often use Intelligence Quotient Scores (IQ score) to measure human mental abilities and their intelligence. Candidates need to finish a few groups of specific questions in a certain time. The test measures the candidate’s organizing and logical thinking abilities. The higher their score the more intelligent they are.


Generally, intelligence is built up from the following items and elements: (Fritz, May17, 1998; Kasper, 1998).


1.      It is established from the life experiences, for instance people can get some experiences after they make mistakes and then they learn to avoid making the same mistakes.

2.      People can accumulate different knowledge and skills and apply those to their life.

3.      People can use different ways to get insight into the problem and will select the best method to solve it.

4.      People have the ability to analyze the problem and then make a complicated situation simpler.


In order to create an intelligent machine, scientists have to know how the human brain works and what its structure is. Neural Networks are the main system in the human brain.


Neural Networks


Neural Networks are the communication structure between the human brain and the whole body. The human brain is made up of a billion brain cells and complicated neurons. The function of the neuron is to transmit the electrical signals throughout the brain and body. When a body gets a stimulus from the outside world, the brain will respond to it though the neurons immediately. For instance, if your hand gets burned by a hot cup of coffee, you must act in response to put down the cup.  


Warren McCulloch and Walter Pitts proposed the theory of neutral network working on the human brain. They found that neurons work in the pattern of the binary number system (represented as 1’s and 0’s or true and false) (Methods used to create intelligence, n.d.) This is a basic electronic computer data processing pattern. Therefore, they linked this theory to the computer simulated neural network. McCulloch and Pitts designed an electronic replica, which used the neural network to prove it could perform logical processes.


The development of this project has been inhibited because of financial and technical problems, but it really has had good results, such as machines that could mimic human thinking and recognize letters.   


Expert systems


An Expert systems "knowledge engineer" is a complex computer program in a specific area or field. It also embodies the knowledge to fulfill some task. The first expert system was MYCIN in 1974, which diagnosed bacterial infections of blood and suggested treatment according to a huge database.  It was useful for medical students and practicing doctors in studying and for reference. Actually, the function and performance of an expert system depends on how the patient interacts with the machine. Moreover, Expert systems can also perform in other different domains such as chess, speech recognition and computer vision  (McCarthy, 2000).


The COG Project: 


COG is an upper-torso humanoid robot, which was created by the five researchers named Rodney A. Brooks, Cynthia Breazeal, Matthew Marjanovic, Brian Scassellati, and Matthew M. Williamson in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab.


COG has a head, two arms, and two eyes which are composed of four cameras and a lot of sensors and motors. Moreover, it has over twenty actuated joints, so that it has twenty –one degrees of freedom motion. COG can simulate and learn the human motion from its interaction with people. Furthermore, it can pull out a physics textbook and work out the interacting kinematics by hand. COG can learn and analyze some commands that it receives from the sensors and then it controls the motors to make responses and movements. The goal of the COG project is to design a robot which is able to interact with the world, including both objects and humans. Moreover it is used to study the theories of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. In the future, researchers will concentrate on developmental organization, social interaction, embodiment and physical coupling and multi-model integration for improving COG’s function and performance (MIT AI Lab, n.d.) In addition, another MIT research team worked on the Kismet project in order to develop a sociable humanoid robot.




Kismet is a headed robot created by the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab; it is designed for social interaction with people. This project is mainly used to develop the emotion and human behavior on the computer. The Kismet system consists of six sub-systems: the low level feature extraction system, the high level perception system, the attention system, the motivation system, the behavior system, and the motor system.


The low level feature extraction system is used to collect the signal from outside interaction, such as sound, color and image. Afterward it sends those signals to the attention system to direct the robot’s attention and gaze toward low-level perceptual stimuli. The perceptual system is used to process the emotion and behavior response from the attention system. Afterward, the motivation system makes the robot have an intention from its "needs" and "emotions," it contains anger, disgust, fear, joy, sorrow, and surprise. The Behavior system is used to handle task-based behavior in logical structure. It makes the robot have reasonable emotion in processing the task. The main responsibility of the behavior system is to fulfill the arbitration. The motor system is capable of making the robot’s movement smoother and more expressive. The system controls the motion of the robot, for example body posture, gaze direction and vocalization (MIT AI Lab, n.d.).


My Response:


In this research project, I learned a lot of knowledge and information about Artificial Intelligence. There are some things that I never knew before such as, Neural Network, COG and Kismet. Sometime, I envision the future world from the movies and TV. Those people can communicate with the machines and make friends with them. The technology has grown faster and faster and we have achieved many goals in order to get our desires and objectives. We always like to make something possible in an impossible situation.


Although AI technology is very useful, it can also produce a lot of problems. People will depend on the computer and machines. Most jobs and operations will be more automatic, so people will face loss of their job or need to compete with the machines. Solving those problems depends on how we apply this technology to our life. For example, we can apply AI technology in medical treatment. Experts use robot arms or legs help patients working and walking.




In the future, Artificial Intelligence technology will still play a main role and be the pioneer in computer science. AI researchers will keep going to build and construct a humanoid robot and to develop expert systems that are able to understand human cognition. Actually, AI research projects will not only focus on computer science, but will also involve other sciences such as psychology, ethnology, systems theory, philosophy, and linguistics. Therefore, AI technology will be used in different places and in different ways.


Artificial Intelligence will increase our standard of living enormously and also help people to solve more complicated problems. In addition, AI technology will need a long time to develop and be researched, but then AI machines will be able to respond to people quickly and in real time.




AI on the Web. (9/28/2000). [Online].


Fritz, Walter. (5/17/1998). Intelligent Systems and Their Societies. [Online].


Kasper, Loretta F. (1998). Interdisciplinary English. New York: McGraw-Hill.


McCarthy John. (4/4/2000). What is Artificial Intelligence? [Online].


Methods used to create intelligence. (n.d.) [Online].


MIT AI Lab. (n..d.). COG Project. [Online].


MIT AI Lab. (n.d.). Kismet Project. [Online].