Friday, March 11, 2016

How to build an artificially intelligent plant

The amazing wondering animal Ani Liu just asked me how I would start to build an artificially intelligent plant. That is a beautiful question! Here is what came up.

1. To begin, identify an area where a plant would meaningfully benefit from additional cognition. 

Here is an example: Plants probably cannot form maps of the environment, but only know gradients. That makes sense, because plants can only move along a gradient: I need more light, in this direction, it gets lighter —> grow in this direction. What about mapping the room with a camera and sensors, and measure where it would be good for the plant to be (light, temperature, commotion, air currents)? And then move there? What about finding out how the room changes during the day and identify an ideal trajectory in that room that you follow as a nomadic plant? What about measuring the need for water and nutrients, and actively seeking out a fountain and a shower with plant food when it gets hungry or thirsty?