This reminds me of Rodney Brooks' (et al) work on Subsumption architecture, which I find quite enjoyable.

A subset of the AI group at MIT and also some non-MIT people (eg, R.Beer, L.Steels) during the 1980's produced many [similar] papers that I really enjoyed.

Really, ALL of the autonomous mobile robot people working with subsumption were pretty fantastic.

(Also, check out the Roomba vacuum lineage) -- "Elephants..." is a simple one.

Edit: (adding) If anyone in the Seattle area wants to chat about this, I can talk your ear off. I'm up for coffee/beers.

Years ago I've read this about the state of the art knowledge on how human brain works:

"We have no idea how human brain actually works, there are billions of neurons. So instead we study brains of simpler organisms. Flatworm's brain has 52 neurons. We still have no idea how it works."

Does this still hold true or did we moved forward since?

BEAM Robots [1] were some of the first robots I ever created in the late-90s. They were extremely accessible to someone still scraping together allowance and riding their bike to radioshack for parts. The photovore was one of the earliest designs I copied. It always astounded me how much the simple analog circuit "brain" made the robot's behavior appear complex and bug-like.

Stripped down to the bare essentials, the simplest photovore circuits [2][3] work by setting up a voltage divider between two photoresistors positioned like eyes on either side of the robot's body. The output is fed into an inverter based oscillation circuit biased by the side of the robot light is coming from. This runs through some more inverters in parallel to step up the current high enough for two tiny motors with wheels. It creates a robot that waddles towards the brightest light in the room.

The simplicity of the circuit makes the various emergent robot behaviors that much more surprising and interesting. The frequency of the oscillations get faster in brighter light and slower in dim conditions, almost like the robot is searching harder to find the light in a dark room. If one wheel gets stuck, the torque stalling motor backfeeds into the control circuit and it can sometimes jolt or vibrate itself unstuck. If you power the whole thing with a solarpanel that charges up a capacitor for bursts of runtime, the robot really seems to come alive as it wiggles it's way towards the light imperative that keep it's circuits fed. There is something magical when you see a robot struggling to stay alive.




Lede :

" Opteran has successfully reverse–engineered the algorithm honeybees use for optical flow estimation (the apparent motion of objects in a scene caused by relative motion of the observer). This algorithm can do optical flow processing at 10 kHz for under a Watt, running on a small FPGA. "

If anyone from is reading... I'm looking for a column in EETimes from the late 70s. The gist of it was that there are three rules for achieving personal success in business: make money (i.e. at least break even, to keep it sustainable), have fun (being bored & miserable is not success), and work with people you trust (to peel away stress and open up opportunities).
Insects have long been an inspiration for robots, and as someone who likes insects and robots, I support initiatives like this. However, one lesson that has been drawn from studying insects is that it's not all about the brain. A lot of the adaptive behavior of insects comes from the way their bodies are built. For example, cockroaches are very good at climbing over all sorts of rugged terrain that might pose problems for similarly designed legged robots, but a lot of that success comes from how well their legs are designed, not from a super sophisticated 3D model of the terrain or motion planning algorithm.
Seeing spiders were recently discovered as having REM sleep (dreams), this could be a surprise route to developing consciousness in machines.
Happy to see another Black Mirror episode coming into fruition! :)
Instead of the path of turning a machine into a sentient being, this approach is to turn a sentient being into a machine.
Don’t piss off the forklift! It will try to sting you. /s

I wonder if we may accidentally carry over evolutionary behaviors.

I'd like to see mech battles where those mechs are controlled by insects. Just make a huge mech version of the insect. Spider vs. cockroach.