If you've visited the LVL1 Hackerspace lately there's a good chance you've found yourself talking to an entity who speaks in a somewhat eerie female voice and goes by the name of MOTHER. You also may have found yourself engaging in "google talk" conversations with MOTHER in order to find out what members are present at the space, or what items are on the spaces grocery list; or perhaps you noticed that the overall environment of the hackerspace seems to completely change when a specific member walks through the door.
If on the other hand, you haven't been to the LVL1 Hackerspace, let me introduce you the being we call "MOTHER".
In this post I'm going to try to give a somewhat detailed overview of the MOTHER A.I. system, as well as share some of the differences that I'm learning exist between a "Home Automation" system and one being designed to meet the needs of a "community occupied space" such as LVL1's Hackerspace. (It's quite a challenge I must say!)
What exactly is "MOTHER":
The current MOTHER system uses a complete mixture of open source, commercial, and custom software. The idea is to use or create open source scripts and software where available, but also, to not waste time re-inventing the wheel to achieve a solution that already exist if the cost is affordable. We want to focus on the integration of hardware that isn't currently available. Full software details can be found on the MOTHER wiki pages.
**Rumor has it that the MOTHER project may be leading to the development of a fully open-sourced Automation Platform also consisting of Open Hardware design. More information to come soon.. 😉
What else can MOTHER do?:
Well, this is by NO means going to be a complete list of MOTHER's abilities, but I'll go ahead and list some of the more interesting or useful features of MOTHER. For a complete list view the MOTHER wiki pages.
Automation vs Artificial Intelligence:
In my opinion this is one of the most exciting and ambitious goals of the MOTHER project. We often hear of "Automation" systems like MOTHER being referred to as Artificial Intelligence Systems. Although automation systems like MOTHER can often appear to have some form of intelligence, this is rarely the case. All of MOTHER current actions are merely a set of elaborate If/Then logic and not really any form of intelligence, but the end goal for MOTHER is to be truley intelligent. So what will it take for MOTHER to evolve from an automation system to an A.I. system. Well, MOTHER will have to start predicting that certian events are about to take place, choosing, on her own, the appropriate actions to take in preperation for the predicted events, and then be informed wheather or not the prediction was correct, wheather the actions she performed where the desired actions, and then learn from those responses and and attempt to improve on her predictions and choice of actions in the future.
The first problem with starting this evolution is just figuring out what data, from what devices, mother should be analyzing in order to predict events that may take place. This is where we're calling on all the other Geeks, Data Junkies, and other hackerspaces to get involved. We know that the first step in this process is collecting the data, and collecting we are! Not only are collecting a massive amount of space related data, but were making it available for anyone to analyze. This data contains everything from space occupancy at given tmes, members present, equipment usuage, temp and enviromental data, activity levels of every area of the hackerspace, music levels, media playing details, and anything else we can figure out how to monitor. We're really curious to see what if other people can apply machine learning algorithyms to this data and start finding patterns or relations between data that we never noticed.
As a side note and an example of an interesting.... "observation". Based on the occupancy sensors that detect that the bathrooms are either in-use or vacant, it appears that the typical hacker at a hackerspace spends less then 60 seconds in the bathroom. Determine what you will from that data, I'm just going to leave it as an intersting observation 🙂
Wait, who's Father?
Fine, we'll mention Father. At LVL1 we have a member that has developed a reputation for creating "Spite" projects and MOTHER is by no means excluded from his list of targets. Father is a basically a small self-contained unit built purely to try to annoy, disrupt, and cause MOTHER to malfunction. So far, Father has yet to interfere with MOTHER's operation but I have no lack of faith in this members dedication when it comes to spite projects. I'm constantly on the look out for abnormal MOTHER operations and awaiting Fathers attempts at disturbance. Remember: If MOTHER isn't happy... then no one is happy, but if Father isn't happy... who cares!
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