David Lynch x Robots = A.I. Art

  • By Seeta Joseph
  • Posted 02.25.16
  • NOVA

A French roboticist's curious machines are advancing our understanding of human infant development. These robots navigate their world with artificial curiosity, which allows them to acquire new skills and even invent their own language. And director David Lynch thinks you won’t be able to help but be friends with them.

Running Time: 02:12


Pierre-Yves Oudeyer: One of the biggest mysteries of science today is to understand how human infants develop.

Narrator: Which is to say, how do an infant’s skills and capabilities get more and more complex? Pierre-Yves Oudeyer is trying to solve this mystery with robots—robots that are capable of learning about each other and their surroundings.

Oudeyer: That can by themself acquire new skills and new concepts in an open-ended manner.

Narrator: Oudeyer’s robots were on display for the general public in Paris at Fondation Cartier. And David Lynch is the artist who designed the robot heads, which convey … well, let’s have Lynch say what they convey.

David Lynch: Each viewer—they’ll feel a little personality come through. I think they would want to be friends with the robots.

Narrator: The robots can sense the world around them in three ways.

Oudeyer: The first is curiosity-driven learning.

Narrator: Curiosity-driven learning, whereby the robots explore how to control and manipulate objects.

Lynch: Yeah, yeah, they’re curious little beings, yeah.

Oudeyer: Then the second is imitation.

Narrator: Imitation of people.

Lynch: Look at that—they’re watching, they’re thinking, they’re trying to figure things out. They seem to be learning something.

Narrator: And the final mechanism—

Oudeyer: Spontaneously inventing a new language.

Narrator: The robots converge on a set of words, developing a shared way of describing the objects in their world. The results of this work might, one day, help us design robots capable of interacting with and learning from us. And in so doing, they might just teach us about our own development—our first words, steps, and thoughts.



Production & Editing
Seeta Joseph
Narration & Writing
Ari Daniel
Yoann Le Gruiec
Renaud Natkin
Fondation Cartier
Original Footage
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2016


Bob O'Connor
Additional Video
Pierre-Yves Oudeyer
YouTube/Irene Lyon (CC)


(main image: Robots)
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2016

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