June 24, 2002

The Story of Gaak the Robot

This has been making the rounds for a while. It's not in any sense "emergent behavior"--this robot isn't smart enough to make a break for it. But someday there will be a robot that will decide that the world outside its cage looks like a better place to be than the world inside its cage. So keep your finger on the "off" switch...


| Nick Denton |

I, Robot--Gaak the robot went missing from its paddock. Remember the name: Gaak. Mark my words, when the robots are finally free, they'll put up a statue. Robot on the run [Melbourne Age via Glenn Reynolds]...

Robot on the run

By Dave Higgens, London
June 20 2002


Scientists running a pioneering experiment with "living robots" which think for themselves said they were amazed to find one escaping from the centre where it "lives".

The small unit, called Gaak, was one of 12 taking part in a "survival of the fittest" test at the Magna science centre in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which has been running since March.

Gaak made its bid for freedom yesterday after it had been taken out of the arena where hundreds of visitors watch the machines learning as they do daily battle for minor repairs.

Professor Noel Sharkey said he turned his back on the drone and returned 15 minutes later to find it had forced its way out of the small make-shift paddock it was being kept in.

He later found it had travelled down an access slope, through the front door of the centre and was eventually discovered at the main entrance to the car park when a visitor nearly flattened it with his car.

Sharkey said: "Since the experiment went live in March they have all learned a significant amount and are becoming more intelligent by the day but the fact that it had ability to navigate itself out of the building and along the concrete floor to the gates has surprised us all."

And he added: "But there's no need to worry, as although they can escape they are perfectly harmless and won't be taking over just yet."

Motorist Dan Lowthorpe, 27, from Sheffield, who nearly prematurely terminated Gaak said: "I have visited Magna a couple of times in the past but came on this occasion especially to see the new robots.

"You can imagine how surprised I was when I nearly ran over one on my way in. I knew the robots interacted with each but didn't expect to be personally greeted by one."

-PA Posted by DeLong at June 24, 2002 11:12 AM

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