Today, truly sentient autonomous robots and virtual agents don't exist. There are no robots that learn from experience so that they can take on useful work assigned by humans. Even today's best robots, with natural-looking gait, are limited to fixed-function applications programmed by the customer using a software development kit. The customers of tomorrow will not be early adopters-- they will be main stream users of robotics in the same way that humans today are main stream users of smart phones. The missing ingredient limiting today's robots is autonomy through synthetic sentience.

Synthetic sentience is a hard thing to build, and sometimes even harder to recognize, and promote. It will require the careful crafting of real-time brain models that can be run in robots. Robots using this technology also have to be taught, just like humans are taught how the world works as kids. Unlike humans, the experience gained by robots can be replicated across any number of individuals. While there is a high cost of entry, the rewards are massive. NeuroSynthetica has invested in the development of its real-time synthetic brain simulation technology to allow for the crafting of working brain models. NeuroSynthetica seeks to partner with robot manufacturers to help them integrate the technology into their next generation of highly-capable robots that will replace today's fixed-function robots.

Search and Rescue

Adding autonomy to robots allows them to augment human teams that might otherwise face serious risks that limit their abilities to perform their function. Robots add a perseverance element to a human activity that improves its overall effectiveness and extends its operation.

SAR is a great example of an activity that involves serious personal risks to team members, and which cannot persist 24/7 without losing effectiveness.

Adding robots to the team's tools allows the team to increase the risks associated with finding someone in the wilderness or in a cave. The human team members can continue to work the operations they are good at, while deploying robots into the field as necessary to locate subjects or send aid, supplies, or communications links.

Finding People in Need During Natural Disasters
Finding People in Need During Natural Disasters

Virtual Assistants

Imagine having a virtual agent with you when you need one to do work in cyberspace that you could do, but would rather ask someone to take care of. Perhaps reconciling your bank statement, dealing with contractors who fix things around the house, coordinating a complex project with multiple stakeholders, finding better deals associated with your subscriptions-- anything you could imagine having a personal assistant do. The agent would always be available, responding as popular "AIs" such as Alexa, Siri, and Cortana do, but instead of performing a fixed already-established task, your agent could carry out a complex task autonomously, untethered to you, and get back to you when the task is finished or has been worked on. Now imagine unleashing not just one, but perhaps 100, 1,000, or even 1,000,000 of them when you need the help-- they're just virtual instances after all-- on demand, to solve really hard problems. You'd pay to achieve quicker results.

Autonomy and synthetic sentience can make this possible. By training a virtual agent to navigate a virtual environment in cyberspace, it becomes a force multiplier for humans to accomplish more. With virtual assistants, small businesses can take on the level of work to compete with larger businesses, leveling the playing field and lowering the cost of entry.

Virtual Agents
Virtual Agents Have Virtually Limitless Application

Surveillance and Perimeter Control

Adding autonomy to robots enables the creation of a different kind of automatic surveillance force-- one that doesn't require a human in the loop. Today's current state-of-the-art robots deployed for these purposes are limited to pre-programmed routes through the premises they patrol, or else they are controlled remotely by a human operator through a gaming console.

Truly autonomous robots can make routes they're used to, but can also act on impulses associated with anomalies that are hard even for humans to pinpoint. We know this feeling-- something's different, but we can't tell what it is. Acting on these anomalies can be rewarded with positive results. And now, robots can be built to do the same.

Security Patrol
Autonomous Robots Can Safely Patrol Dangerous Areas


Why don't we see more robots in the home? Only the Roomba has actually made inroads into the home market, and for good reason-- it can autonomously map out the floor space of a home and vacuum it at the same time-- it actually works, and it is fun to watch it work. Yet other home applications seem out of reach for today's robots, because even autonomous robot vacuums don't have the coordination to perform simple locomotion, much less carry out detailed tasks that might involve taking care of the home, or serving as a companion.

Autonomy and synthetic sentience are the things that enable a robot to learn to navigate an environment naturally and efficiently. With these building blocks, robots will start to perform more complex tasks than simply performing floor coverage analysis. They won't cook immediately, because we enjoy doing that as humans. Cleaning could be an application, requiring vision to understand when a mess exists that needs tidying, or an area needs cleaning. Such a robot might signal the Roomba to do the actual vacuuming. This area is new, and it will be exciting to see how robots naturally enter the home, perhaps in the same ways that Google naturally entered our cyberspace to organize and provide access to the world's information.

Home RobotsAgents
Robots in the Home

Special Operators-- Demining, Bomb and Ordnance Disposal

The investigation of objects intended to cause harm is a really hard problem, and a very dangerous one for human operators. Current state-of-the-art robots are run by wireless remote control by a special operator, requiring a human to stay in the loop.

Imagine robots that could actually fearlessly and logically investigate packages on their own, navigating hazards along the way, sensing when things don't seem right. Following their training, which really amounts to upbringing, they are able to handle a multitude of simultaneous threats and potentially work together to identify and neutralize them.

Dangerous Jobs Need Better Tools
Autonomous Smarter Tools Could Reduce Hazardous Workloads