If I had infinite technological resources, time and semi-superpowers, what would be the coolest thing I would want to build?
I would build an autonomous squid simulating remote operated vehicle (ASS-ROV).
Squid are interesting animals for several reasons. As cephalopods (with cutlefish and octopus), they belong to pretty much the only group of invertebrates (animals without backbone) with powerful, large brains. They show an amazing complexity of behaviors, like elaborate mating dances, diverse hunting strategies, and even behavioral mimicking ofdangerous marine animals. They are also social animals, sometimes traveling in groups.A lot of that is written about in this fine book:
My ASS-ROV would be a fast, nimble and noise free minute submarine. It would not be steered by someone on the surface with a remote control; hence no need for a long clumsy cable attached to it. My ASS-ROV would be navigated by an artificial intelligence (ai) program. Not that’s the hard part. That’s where technology would have to advance significantly over the current status.
So, the ASS-ROV with the yet to be invented ai would swim amongst the squid. There, it could record their behavior: film them, record their motions, diving depth, swimming speed, ect. But it would not only swim amongst them inconspicuously. It would interact. The surface of the ASS-ROV would be an lcd screen which replicates the cephalopod skin color changes. A few arms would have to be there for the sake of posturing. The ASS-ROV would try to be one of the squid, and to learn about the squid by communicating with them and by gaining their trust. The ai for this type of activity is far far far in the future! But, there exists no obstacle in principle which makes such a device impossible. It would be like the robotic Jane Goodall of the squid. I mean, seriously, what could be cooler than such an ASS-ROV?