Robots can do better. And if they can’t right now, it’s only a matter of time. 

That’s the promise of artificial general intelligence, which is getting more and more attention, as evidenced by last months conference on AGI. The subject is seeing a renaissance of sorts as interest surges in creating robots that are less specialized and more human in the way they process information, with the ultimate goal of developing AI that can think in complex ways, learn from it’s environment and ultimately solve problems like a person, only faster. 

Swiss developed robot QB1 is one of the more recent developments in this sort of work. While QB1 doesn’t look human, the music selection device offers the human like interaction of helping you DJ in a bid to keep people talking to it so it can keep learning from the interactions. Meanwhile, IBM has offered it’s first look at it’s new Watson supercomputer. Unlike other supercomputers that are designed to be faster or more precise in research of academia, Watson was crafted with a higher calling in mind – answering trivia questions. The pub quiz answer to Deep Blue is an experiment in creating a computer that better understands questions posed in natural language, understand the question being posed and retrieve and answer in a matter of seconds. Watson will have it’s coming out party on the biggest trivia stage in the world when it makes it’s debut on Jeopardy! sometime in 2010, locked in mortal trivia combat against a pair of human contestants.

 But humans aren’t the only ones being phased out in favor of more efficient robotic counterparts, now that researchers at Festo have succeeded in building a better penguin. Check ’em out.

As you can see, not only are these simulacra incredibly life recreations of the real thing underwater, they can also fly if you pump them full of helium. Of course, that’s probably true of flesh and blood penguins as well, but doing it to a robot does keep researchers out of what could be generously termed a tricky moral grey area.