Simon Funk put an AI challenge online, where you need to control two mechanical hands and flap a ball from right to left. The simulation itself is all in python and getting started is really easy.
My approach is extended from some ideas I am looking at with a colleague. The video above are some initial results of my implementation. The best performance is seemingly at the start I reckon, although you can definitely see that the left hand is replaying its strategy once it is getting into the same situation (the ball slowly rolling towards it).
The research is highly focused on how intention, (intrinsic) reward and perceptions from the external environment all work together to hopefully do something useful in the end. It's a great challenge to work on, there are great dynamics in this physical simulation.
I'm using an ATI GPU for the computation, which I hope to extend further in the future to get better results. Notice in the video how the arms don't really move very determined in all cases. For a large amount of the time, they are fighting the gravity and seem to have trouble generating enough energy to overcome the counterforces playing on their 'muscles'. They don't really need to much about the state of the entire world in order to execute some "good" actions (once again, 'good' is in the eyes of the beholder and depends on how much fun something is, social interaction, the benefits it "feels" it gets, etc).
Anyway, these are the results after one day so far. Now let's see if it can be made better.