Even though there is still a long way to go before getting a robot that is able to think like a human, if this is going to happen at all in the future there are a number of things that must happen. An important step for a real artificial intelligence is, of course, self-awareness. Self-awareness is the capability to recognize oneself as someone distinct from others. And this is exactly what one robot might have done recently.
Scientists from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute AI and Reasoning Lab from New York used the traditional The King’s Wise Men inductive reasoning puzzle, and applied the test to three robots.
The test makes use of three hats, either blue or white. The hats are given to three people and they are told that at least one of them is blue. The people in the test aren’t given the chance to communicate between them, but the first one to tell what color his hat is wins the game.
Selmer Bringsjord, chair at the department of cognitive science inside the institute, used three robots in the self-awareness test. The robots, named Nao, were developed by a French company called Aldebaran. The researcher programmed the trio of robots with an algorithm developed by him named Deontic Cognitive Event Calculus, which allows robots to have reasoning.
The robots were told that “dumbing pills” have been given to two of them that made them unable to speak and one of them a placebo. And while the truth is that the robots just had buttons pressed on their heads, the result was the same. The robots were then asked if they had been provided a placebo or a dumbing pill.
There was a moment of silence after the question was asked and after that a robot stood up and said “I don’t know”. After this happened he raised his hand up like a kid in school and corrected the statement by saying “Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given the dumbing pill”.
To be able to show this kind of self-awareness, the robot has to understand the puzzle’s rules, be able to recognize its voice and be aware that it is an individual that is different from the others.
The work done by Selmer Bringsjord will be shown at the IEEE symposium on human and robot interactive communication held in Japan and called RO-MAN 2015. The event takes place between August 31 and September 4.
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