Description of the challenges faced by the Tech Project
The human brain is arguable the most complex system known to humanity. Realistic simulations of biological neural circuits consume and produce vast amounts of data. This poses three major challenges for neurorobotics. First, there is no theory or established methodology for connecting brain models to robotic bodies. The neurorobotics subproject therefore both designs and implements a tool chain that translates brain activity into control signals for the robot and output from the robot’s sensors to input stimuli for the brain. Clearly, the morphology of that robot should mimic that of a biological body as closely as possible. Consequently, the second challenge addressed by neurorobotics is the development highly realistic virtual and physical models of biological bodies with bones, muscles, and soft tissue. Even the most realistic brain model will not automatically exhibit intelligent behavior when connected to a robot. The third challenge in neurorobotics is therefore to study how an embodied brain can learn and in particular, how the learning process is driven, guided and facilitated through embodiment and interaction with the environment.
Brief description of technology
The NRP is an open source cloud based system for neurorobotic simulations that aims to provide researchers with software and hardware tools to aide in the investigation of the intersection between computational neuroscience and robotics. The hardware tools include supercomputing cluster nodes at several sites within Europe. The software tools include a web-based user interface designed to develop brain models, build and edit virtual environments, equip robots with sensors and actuators, and link robot components to brain models. It can be thought of as a virtual lab, where neuroscientists can exploit these tools to perform simulated experiments within sensory-rich environments. Moreover, the NRP also supports roboticists by providing the ability to investigate the use of brain models instead of traditional controllers for robotic locomotion and manipulation tasks using traditional robotic platforms. This virtual lab is made possible through eight software modules that include four designers, three simulation engines and an Experiment Simulation Viewer. These eight modules allow users to design experiments from scratch, re-run previous experiments with different parameters, robots, or brain models, visualize experiments in real time, and analyze and share experiment results.
What the project is looking to gain from the collaboration and what kind of artist would be suitable
How does the average European picture intelligent technology and technically generated intelligence? What are their hopes and fears? Which problems do they expect the evolving technology to solve, and which new problems envision? Cultural production contributes considerably to these notions and in fact most of our concepts of artificial brains, A.I., human-like robots or neuro-enhancement are rooted in science fiction scenarios. The wide pop-cultural impact of science fiction creates expectations for future living spaces and ways of life. It stimulates scientific research and opens a space of resonance that matches the goals of the Human Brain Project. When it comes to designing future environments where humans co-live with robots, artistic approaches will gain more and more importance far beyond the production of images. We are thus welcoming artists from a broad range of fields that share an interest in complex interactive systems and their potential future impact.
Resources available to the artist
Artists will get access to the complete software infrastructure developed in the Human Brain Project. This not only includes the Neurorobotics Platform but also other services developed in the Human Brain Project. In general, there is also the opportunity to join regular project meetings, scientific events and HBP conferences. We offer workspace on the campus of the Technical University of Munich in Garching. Besides internet access and a workplace, there is an excellent research and development infrastructure including an open facility (MakerSpace) that offers state-of-the art tools ranging from laser cutters to sewing machines.