Three cute Nao robots were experimentally tested for self-awareness in a project led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Professor Selmer Bringsjord.
As Artificial Intelligence debates are heating up scientific communities worldwide, what the state of science on the matter of self-awareness is, insists on remaining a blur. The experiment led by Professor Selmer Bringsjord aimed at bringing robot self-awareness in the limelight.
And it was successful. The three brightly-colored Nao robots were instructed to know that two of them will receive what the professor named a ‘dumbing pill’. The video of the experiment shows the professor clicking one button on the Nao robots’ heads that would render them unable to speak, otherwise keeping all functions active.
This was the ‘dumbing pill’. None of the Nao robots knew which two had received the ‘dumbing pill’. When the trio is asked which one received the ‘dumbing pill’, only the last one is able to respond initially what all three robots would have:
“I don’t know”.
Yet, it is only a matter of seconds until induction makes way for self-awareness. The Nao robot that answered learned that it was the only robot speaking, learned it was its own voice and understood the meaning of the question. After the few seconds pass, the Nao robot gives an equally meaningful answer:
“Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given a dumbing pill”.
Thus, the experiment trying to prove that robots can develop self-awareness was successful. Nonetheless, a lot remains to be learned about the human mind, intelligence and consciousness. Let alone passing it on to newer and newer generations of robots that could become increasingly useful to humanity. Or, depending on which side of the debate we lend an ear to, the doom of humanity.
Professor Selmer Bringsjord has focused his career on developing artificial intelligence systems based on computational logic. His role at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is largely focused on cognitive science and computer science.
In his view, the experiment conducted with the three Nao robots, based on cognitive programming or psychometric artificial intelligence is only the tip of the iceberg in learning what robots could really do with self-awareness.
The experiment will be presented for the public at the RO-MAN conference located in Japan, taking place between August 31st and September 4th, 2015.
Photo Credits dulce.com
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