July 2, 2012

Robot Reproduction, as seen on TV

The Season 7 premiere of Futurama [1] features a lesson in robot reproduction [2], which, as it turns out, proceeds much like an evolutionary algorithm [3]. Traits such as body shape (e.g. square "torso") or behaviors (e.g. long arms with bending ability) are directly encoded in the robot genome. The entire process (shown in the episode) relies heavily on recombination. Pictures from the episode (Bender with Son, and Mother, Father, and Child are shown below).

Watch the episode (airs on Comedy Central in the USA or Hulu+) for more details.


[1] cleverly titled "The Bots and the Bees".

[2] according to Matt Groening, the idea of robot reproduction is a very intriguing but "wacky" idea.

[2] phenotypic traits (see Bender's son "Ben") are inherited by the next generation in a manner similar to "building blocks", a technique commonly employed in evolutionary optimization.

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