It's Happening: Robot Passed A Self-Awareness Test And We're Terrified

by Sean Levinson

A robot passed a classic test that determines if it can exhibit consciousness or self-awareness.

In a logic puzzle called "The King's Wise Men," a king must choose one of three people to be his new advisor.

He tells the three he will put either a blue or white hat on each of their heads, when in reality, he gave all three blue hats.

The job will go to the first one who learns the color of his hat.

According to Popular Science, three identical robots were put through a simpler version of the test by Professor Selmer Bringsjord of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.

Bringsjord programmed the robots to think he gave two of them a "dumbing pill" rendering them unable to speak.

But, the pill was really just a button that makes them silent, and the robots did not know which one of them had been silenced.

Each robot was asked which one had been given the pill, and they all tried to say, "I don't know." Just one of them, however, was able to speak.

That robot heard its own voice and after realizing the other two had received the pill, responded,

Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given a dumbing pill.

The robot's awareness of its own speech and ability to comprehend the test suggests individual robots may someday be able to distinguish individual functions from peers.

Bringsjord will present the results at IEEE RO-MAN 2015, a conference in Japan about robotic consciousness that runs from August 31 to September 4.

Popular Science notes although the professor is working to make robots seem more human, his faculty bio states,

...the human mind will forever be superior to such machines.

Citations: Polite Robots Show Glimmer of Self Awareness (Popular Science)