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Turing Test for Smart Materials

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Janet Gibson.

As smarter artificial materials develop, many people have started to associate them with living things, due to the complexity of the behavior they exhibit. In people’s minds autonomous responses to environments and calculated movement for each is associated not only with living but smart living matter. The field of smart materials may need the equivalent of the Turing Test for computer intelligence to establish a baseline level of what could commonly be called Smart Materials.

In our recent work we have developed materials with multiple functions, including actuation, sensing, and programmed movement. We have also observed the generation of multiple regular geometric shapes in liquid droplets – a phenomenon of artificial morphogenesis, with parallels to biological processes, such as polarization and gastrulation. The materials we work with are demonstrably non-living. Yet we show that something non-living could display higher complexity of behavior than many living creatures. We invite a discussion after the talk on the audience reactions to the smart materials and your thoughts on the development of a Smart Materials Turing Test.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Sciences Group series.

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