Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI


ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 1 June 2000



Hutton, D.M. (2000), "Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI", Kybernetes, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 523-529.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The author confidently refers to the “new AI” and many readers will need to peruse the book to understand what is meant. AI has gone through a number of “regeneration” stages, as it should, of course. No researcher is happy using the term AI, in the same way that over the centuries “intelligence” has meant so many different things to many people. This book is not concerned merely with the definition of either intelligence or artificial intelligence but rather the perceived change in the study of our understanding of intelligent systems. It was comparatively recently that most AI researchers believed that an intelligent system performing high‐level reasoning was essential to link perception with action. The author of this text takes another view. It is one that could provide us with a different approach to many of our researches in cybernetics and systems. Dr Brooks in his text introduces an approach that is “behaviour‐based”. His thesis is that by directly coupling perception with action we create what is called “the power of intelligence”. The concept of cognition is then seen as being relative to the observer.

The book clearly presents this new approach and many who are working in what are now multidisciplinary fields such as robotics and automation would do well to examine the author’s interpretation of a new AI approach, which is behaviour‐based, to their researches. It is also a theory that should be examined by all AI researchers and developers. It is not easy to change old concepts and reading this book may not convince everyone, but it will, most certainly, provide “food for thought” in a field where every new theory deserves attention.

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