15 Aug MIPUS and Association Neurons
Association Neurons ==> Coordination
Association Neurons are tied to motor neurons, though they are much more numerous (30 to 1 ratio). They have multiple roles depending on where in the nervous system they are found. Innovateus has a convenient primer on this category of nerve cell.
To understand the importance of association neurons, consider the plight of MIPUS‘s designers. Their customers asked for a robot that could serve as a totally automatic dishwasher: clear the dishes from the table, rinse them in the sink, place them in the dishwasher, add soap, turn the dishwasher on, and then unload the dishes once they are clean. The hardest parts are on the front end – clearing the table and rinsing the dishes. To do these two tasks, MIPUS needs hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity equal to or greater than a mature monkey or a five-year-old human child. (Please don’t mention the monkey where MIPUS can hear you! He has sensitivities)
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MIPUS must be able to access knowledge in order to navigate between the table and the dishwasher, to identify the shapes of dishes and silverware, and to grasp and lift dishes and silverware. MIPUS also needs to associate declarative and procedural knowledge in order to control his leg, arm, and hand movements. One role of association neurons in the human brain is to associate input from the sensory (sensor in MIPUS) system with stored knowledge. This association is what enables humans to send cues for motor control to the cerebellum.
Just as the human brain has areas with groups of neurons with special functions, MIPUS has data in special tables or areas of one big table (Big Data) for each specialized capability. If his data is relational, we would use Structured Query Language (SQL) to get at the needed information. If MIPUS is based on a big data model, we would use a mapReduce based access mechanism. Data needed to operate MIPUS’s advanced household functions is digitally stored “fuzzy knowledge” in the Utility Computer. Heuristics using Neural Networks enable him to dynamically adjust to different situations: plates that can’t be stacked, full glasses, and guests who have not finished eating.
But even with the heuristics and the rules, a huge amount of knowledge is required to visually detect the location of the objects to move, develop a strategy to move the arm through possibly obstructed space to reach the object, grasp and lift it with enough firmness to hold it but not enough to break it, then safely bring it to its destination and place it in the right location gently enough for it to be used in the future. (There’s a great scene in David Copperfield where the humans had a difficult time with these tasks). We ask alot of poor MIPUS, so it’s only right that we treat him gently and avoid offending him with insensitive comments.
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