Not all uses of Artificial Intelligence are specifically designed to advance the interests of the science or technology communities. Some are just plain fun. Many toys implement AI, and more will be developed as the technology grows and matures. Here are a few that we thought were the most notable.
The Sony robotic dog, Abio, for instance, is probably the fanciest and most famous AI toy. Running at about $2000 US, the latest version of the pup could speak 1,000 words, react to its owner's motions and commands, keep blogs, take pictures with its eyes, and play music. Abio’s only problem was lack of market—too few people were willing to spend that much for a robotic dog, and Sony cancelled production in late 2005. The 150,000 people who did shell out the money however, own one of the most technologically advanced AI toys available.
There is hope yet for robot enthusiasts who are anxious to get a hold of a new household intelligent being. Pleo, an automated robot dinosaur, is due for release to international markets in late 2006. It was designed in part by one of the inventors of the Furby (external link) to resemble an actual Jurassic dinosaur. Pleo is covered in sensors and will act as your own personal house dino learning from its environment and growing intellectually.
How can a little plastic box know what you’re thinking by asking 20 yes or no questions? After 18 years of development, the 20Q game (external link) can guess with an uncanny certainty nearly any object you think of. In 1988, Robert Burgener put 20 yes or no questions, describing a cat, into a neural net. He passed the network onto his friends, who entered similar entries for different objects. Once it hit the Internet, it was only a matter of time before it had a 73% success rate. Burgener took the 2000 most popular answers, compressed them and the questions into code that could run on a chip, and developed the 20Q game. Although it has a smaller database, it can successfully guess what’s on a user’s mind; because it knows fewer facts, it gets confused less often.
Scientists made a few real dogs interact with Aibos to see if the dogs are fooled by the Aibos. It was all peaceful, until the scientists decided to put a slice of meat in the room and have an Aibo and a dog compete over it. What it resulted in was a snarling dog kicking the living daylights out of an ill fated robot. They strongly advise you not to try anything similar with your AIBO. Now, view this video from their site (external link).