As I got notified of the Hackaday Challenge 2018, I saw the 'Open Hardware Design Challenge' entry option, with its lack of a requirement for any type of completed prototype, along with the tag line of Building Hope. This led me to consider the most suitable project that I could dream up among my veritable pile of viable ideas, half-witted concepts and hare-brained schemes.
One thing which has interested me for many years has been artificial intelligence, along with the idea of building an artificial body that meets or exceeds the capabilities of what evolution has created over the past millions of years. Science-fiction series such as Ghost in the Shell have only served to worsen this craving desire to make this a reality.
With this in mind, I thus awkwardly present to you my CAT project: Cat Aided Technology. The witty thing being that it's about a robotic platform that is meant to mimic a cat's body. And it's called CAT.
Right, with that astounding fact out of the way, I would like to point to the meaning of the acronym, in the 'cat aided technology'. This refers to this project being about providing a standardised platform for AI and robotics development, with a more or less standard form factor that allows for easy prototyping of both the hardware (robotics) and software (AI, control software) components, even between people at the other side of the world.
As a bonus, this project may one day yield a viable robotic and AI companion, which could be a pet, or much more, depending on how well the AI works out. Anyone up for a pet cat who doesn't just listen to your complaining about colleagues after a hard day at the office, but who can talk back and offer just the right encouragement to motivate you to throw yourself into the breach again the next day?
I won't lie when I say that I have always wanted to have a hardware platform like this for my own AI development dreams. The AI framework I have thought up for this - but never fully implemented yet - is called HL-AI, short for 'High-Level Artificial Intelligence'. Through CAT I hope to figure out the merits of this approach to AI.
To me AI isn't something scary, nor are robots. To me they offer us a glimpse into a future where we humans have finally left our issues and differences behind, to join a world in which loneliness, disease and conceivably even death have become a thing of the past.
All that it takes for us is to allow ourselves to dream, and to work towards this future. To me, the CAT project is therefore a prime example of how one - quite literally - builds hope.