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The Future of AI: Transitioning from Screens to Real Life | Daniela Rus | TED

Are you ready to dive into the world of artificial intelligence and robotics with me? Let me take you on a journey through the fascinating story of Leen Sattout, a student who embarked on a mission to program a robot to cut a cake for their professor’s birthday.

Leen and her group of fellow students decided to surprise their professor with a unique gift – a robot programmed to cut a slice of cake for him. They spent a whole night writing the program, excited to see their creation in action the next day.

However, things took an unexpected turn when the robot, instead of cutting a soft, round sponge cake, aggressively approached and almost destroyed a square, solid ice cream cake. Despite the mishap, their professor found humor in the situation and calmly pressed the stop button, explaining that the robot’s erratic behavior was a unique control element in robotics.

This experience taught Leen a valuable lesson about the complexities of the physical world, with its laws of physics and limitations, being much more demanding than the digital world. Fast forward to the present day, Leen leads a computer science and artificial intelligence lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she collaborates with brilliant researchers and innovators to create the future of computing and smart machines.

In her lab, Leen and her team are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence by integrating digital intelligence with mechanical prowess in robots. They are pioneering a new approach called “liquid networks” that allows for more adaptive and interpretable AI solutions compared to traditional methods.

Liquid networks enable AI to transition from two-dimensional computer interactions to a three-dimensional physical world, where machines can interact with us in astonishing ways. Imagine being surrounded by helpful robots in a supermarket, assisting you with heavy lifting and tasks, all thanks to the advancements in physical intelligence.

The concept of physical intelligence is revolutionizing the field of robotics, as AI-powered machines can now perform programmed tasks more efficiently using knowledge derived from data. By harnessing physical intelligence, machines become smarter and more capable, leading to what Leen calls the “material intelligence.”

Material intelligence is when AI is used to understand text, images, and other information online to make real-world machines smarter. This means that AI can help pre-programmed robots perform tasks better by leveraging knowledge from data.

Leen’s work is at the forefront of this technological revolution, where AI is breaking free from two-dimensional computer screens and entering a physically vibrant world. By merging digital intelligence with mechanical aptitude, the possibilities for innovation and breakthroughs are endless.

As Leen continues to push the boundaries of physical intelligence, she envisions a future where machines can learn from humans and adapt to new tasks seamlessly. This new era of AI opens up a world of possibilities, from personalized assistants enhancing our daily routines to specialized machines aiding us in work and leisure activities.

The journey towards material intelligence is not without its challenges, but with the right guidance and collaboration, Leen believes that we can harness the power of AI to create a better future for humanity and the planet. She invites us to join her in this mission, where some will develop physical intelligence, some will use it, and some will invent the future.

So, are you ready to be a part of this exciting journey into the realm of artificial intelligence and robotics? Let’s embrace the possibilities of material intelligence and shape a brighter tomorrow together. Thank you for joining me on this captivating adventure. (Applause)

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