1， So what will happen?
So what will happen? What will happen over the next thirty years is that will see new types of animal-inspired machines that are more `messy' and unpredictable than any we have seen before. These machines will change over time as a result of their interactions with us and with the world. These silent, pre-linguistic, animal-like machines will be nothing like humans but they will gradually come to seem like a strange sort of animal. Machines that learn, familiar to researchers in labs for many years, will finally become mainstream and enter the public consciousness.
What category of problems could animal-like machines address? The kind of problems we are going to see this approach tackle will be problems that are somewhat noise and error resistant and that do not demand abstract reasoning. A special focus will be behavior that is easier to learn than to articulate - most of us know how to walk but we couldn't possibly tell anyone how we do it. Similarly with grasping objects and other such skills. These things involve building neural networks, filling in state-spaces and so on, and cannot be captured as a set of rules that we speak in language. You must experience the dynamics of your own body in infancy and thrash about until the changing internal numbers and weights start to converge on the correct behavior. Different bodies mean different dynamics. And robots that can learn to walk can learn other sensorimotor skills that we can neither articulate nor perform ourselves.
What are examples of these type of problems? Well, for example, there are already autonomous lawnmowers that will wander around gardens all afternoon. The next step might be autonomous vacuum cleaners inside the house (though clutter and stairs present immediate problems for wheeled robots). These are all sorts of other uses for artificial animals in areas where people find jobs dangerous or tedious...