Gaak was missing. No one knew what it was thinking or if it was thinking at all.
The activities that kindergarten-age children perform effortlessly, like knowing the difference between a cup and a chair, or walking from one room to the next without bumping into the wall, were not thought of as intelligent behavior or worthy of study by traditional AI researchers. But when traditional systems did not perform as they had expected, experts in AI began to wonder what intelligence really meant.
The real success of AI is that most people are simply unaware of how significantly it affects and enables the routines of daily life. A man gets up in the morning to the smell of coffee already brewing.
In 1958 Joseph Engelberger created the first robots—called Unimates—for factory work. They looked nothing like the fictional robots in movies or books; they looked more like giant flexing arms.
Robot soldiers in any form may be decades away, but that task is simple compared with the skills and efforts needed to produce a robot that could be mistaken for a real human. Creating a humanoid robot is the ultimate goal for many AI researchers, and the most daunting.
AI of the future may not look like Cog or have the moves of ASIMO, but it will probably exhibit many of the same attributes that are being perfected in these humanoid robots. The science of artificial intelligence is less than sixty years old, which is young for a branch of science, yet AI has advanced phenomenally since the early days of moth-ridden vacuum tubes.