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 by Professor 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 colour on his head wins.
The contest would only be fair if all three men sported the same colour hat. Therefore, the winning wise man would note that the colour of the hats on the other two, and then guess that his was the same colour.
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, realising 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, recognised its own voice and been aware of the fact that it is a separate entity from the other robots. Researchers told Digital Trends that if nothing else, the robot’s behaviour is a “mathematically verifiable awareness of the self”.
Watch the demonstration below:
Some Twitter users sniffed fear when they watched the new development unfold, while others lauded the discovery.
WHY ARE WE MAKING ROBOTS SELF AWARE??? DID WE NOT WATCH AGE OF ULTRON
— SageOfThe6ixPaths (@NotoriousJAV) July 18, 2015
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