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Rodney Allen Brooks (b. December 30, 1954 in Adelaide) is currently (as of 2005) director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Panasonic Professor of Robotics. He is Chief Technical Officer and sits on the Board of iRobot Corp.

His seminal work in robotics, first published in 1986 and subsequently elaborated upon in a series of highly influential papers, inaugurated a fundamental shift in artificial intelligence research. Brooks has argued strongly against symbolic processing approaches to creating intelligent machines, which had been the focus of AI since the days of Alan Turing, directly tracing back to the work of Gottlob Frege. Instead, Brooks has focused on biologically-inspired robotic architectures (e.g., the Subsumption architecture) that address basic perceptual and sensorimotor tasks. These had been largely dismissed as uninteresting by the mainstream AI community, which was far more interested in reasoning about the real world than in interacting with it. Conversely, Brooks argued that interacting with the physical world is far more difficult than symbolically reasoning about it. This perspective is perhaps best and most eloquently described in his classic paper, Elephants Don't Play Chess.

Brooks impact of the field has been enormous and his influence rivals that of Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy.

Career summary, research

Current research:

  • engineering intelligent robots to operate in unstructured environments
  • understanding human intelligence through building humanoid robots


Recent books and papers:

  • Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI (MIT Press, 1999) ISBN 0262522632
  • The Relationship Between Matter and Life (in Nature 409, pp. 409-411; 2001)
  • Flesh and Machines: How Robots Will Change Us (Pantheon, 2002) ISBN 0375420797

Other publications include papers and books in:

Prof. Brooks was also co-founding editor of the International Journal of Computer Vision and is on the editorial boards of various journals including:

  • Adaptive Behavior
  • Artificial Life
  • Applied Artificial Intelligence
  • Autonomous Robots
  • New Generation Computing

Memberships, lectureships, prizes, etc

Memberships include:

  • Founding Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI)
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)

Prizes include:

  • Computers and Thought Award at the 1991 IJCAI (International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence)

Lectureships include:

Film appearances include:

  • Being himself in the Errol Morris movie Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (named after one of his scientific papers)

External links

de:Rodney A. Brooks es:Rodney Brooks sk:Rodney Brooks

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