Roboticists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York have built three robots that were put to the famous “wise man” test of self-awereness, and one of them actually passed.
The test is a puzzle that spins a tale of a king who must choose a new advisors from the three wisest people in his land. The king promises there will be a fair competition, and then places either a blue or white hat on the heads of the three people. He then says that the first person who correctly guesses the colour of his hat shall be his new advisor. The trick is of course that the only way for the competition to be fair, is for all the hats to be the same colour.
The robots passed another test as well
The three robot brethren were put to another test by Selmer Bringsjord – who is the chair of the Department of Cognitive Science at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – were two out of three robots were prevented from speaking, but all three were asked which one of them was still able to talk. All three try to respond, but only one can. When this one robot hears it’s own voice, and comprehends it alone was not silenced, it was startled and said “Sorry, I know now!”. Isn’t that just the cutest thing? Click on the video above to see the actual moment the robot becomes self aware! It’s so adorable, where can I buy one?
Another great self-aware robot is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Marvin.
Though I imagine he wouldn’t be terribly helpful as any kind of medical first responder
These tests are difficult for the robots because they first have to listen carefully and comprehend the question before they can respond. In the case of the second test, as soon as the robot hears its voice, and realises it’s different from another robot’s voice, it will think back to the original question, and realise it is the only one that not been silenced. It can separate its own “identity” from the others.
These self-awareness logic puzzles are crucial in building robots that are able to understand their place in society. If robots pass several of these tests, scientists hope the robots will be able to create a skill set of near human abilities that will be useful to us humans. Possibly this could mean robots that are able to provide assistance in emergencies or other situations were humans would need assistance. There is already research being done with regards to robots being put into action in dangerous situations, but these are not self-aware in any way.