Robots can staff eccentric Japanese hotels, make logical decisions by playing Minecraft, and create trippy images through Google. Now the droids may have attained a new milestone by demonstrating a level of self-awareness.
An experiment led byProfessor Selmer Bringsjord of New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute used the classic "wise men" logic puzzle to put a group of robots to the test.
The roboticists used a version of this riddle to see if a robot is able to distinguish itself from others.
Bringsjord and his research squad called the wise men riddle the "ultimate sifter" test because the knowledge game quickly separates people from machines -- only a person is able to pass the test.
But that is apparently no longer the case. In a demonstration to the press, Bringsjord showed that a robot passed the test.
The premise of the classic riddle presents three wise advisors to a king, wearing hats, each unseen to the wearer. The king informs his men of three facts: the contest is fair, their hats are either blue or white, and the first one to deduce the color on his head wins.
The contest would only be fair if all three men sported the same color hat. Therefore, the winning wise man would note that the color of the hats on the other two, and then guess that his was the same color.
The roboticists used a version of this riddle to prove self awareness -- all three robots were programmed to believe that two of them had been given a "dumbing pill" which would make them mute. Two robots were silenced. When asked which of them hadn't received the dumbing pill, only one was able to say "I don't know" out loud.
Upon hearing its own reply, the robot changed its answer, realizing that it was the one who hadn't received the pill.
To be able to claim that the robot is exhibiting "self-awareness", the robot must have understood the rules, recognized its own voice and been aware of the fact that it is a separate entity from the other robots. Researchers told Digital Trendsthat if nothing else, the robot's behavior is a "mathematically verifiable awareness of the self".
Watch the demonstration below:
Self-aware robots! Interesting step forward. http://t.co/0OMWEPMoqJ— Dominic Thomas (@dominict) July 16, 2015
WHY ARE WE MAKING ROBOTS SELF AWARE??? DID WE NOT WATCH AGE OF ULTRON — SageOfThe6ixPaths (@NotoriousJAV) July 18, 2015
"It is not robots that will kill us all by becoming self-aware, it is humans who have lost all sense of humanity." - @asemota— Antonia (@Tonianni) July 17, 2015
The scariest thing from this week: Self-Aware Robots have arrived. http://t.co/esTyuryYsV— TechRadar (@techradar) July 19, 2015