I was in Kyoto for three days in December. Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto is a region with high concentration of companies involved in robotics. I cannot stop thinking about robotics and Subject-centric computing after this trip. Traditionally, when we talk about Subject-centric computing (SCC) and Topic Maps (as enabling technology), we assume more or less slowly evolving models. In the world of robotics, models are evolving in real time.
There are many specialized technologies in robotics such as motion control, sensor information processing, image and speech recognition, planning. But the fundamental SCC concepts of identity and assertions-in-a-context are equally applicable to real- and close-to-real-time scenarios. Robots have to “understand” subjects that are important for humans. “Understanding” means (at least) explicit representations of these subjects inside of robot “brains”.
Interesting observation is that robots will explore new subjects and will generate a lot of new subject identifiers. For example, action planning generates goals-subgoals. Working in real-life environment means constantly dealing with new subjects, constructing assertions and identifiers for these subjects and trying to match them with subject representations in memory.
Create-new-or-reuse-existing-subject-proxy is a fundamental question in Subject-centric computing. Traditionally, we rely on a human to make this decision. In the world of robotics, we need to dive into the core of subject identity and subject recognition process.
I like Lego Mindstorms. I am looking forward to try some ideas related to Subject-centric computing and robotics in 2008. Specifically I am interested in investigation of these scenarios: creating a map of unknown “territory” using sensors, “identifying” subjects on a map in a dialog with a human, enriching information about subjects on a map with information from external “information grid”, evolving “territory” and automatic recognition of “old” and “new” subjects.