Surely the Japanese commercially available and cute Nao robots are already known. But that three of them showed self-consciousness is a novelty.
Of course, the Nao robots didn’t develop self-consciousness by themselves. Professor Selmer Bringsjord of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute took the three cute Nao robots and programmed them to measure results in a one-of-its-kind experiment, spinoff of the ‘King’s Wise Men’ induction puzzle.
The Nao robots were programmed to know that two among the group had been administered a ‘dumbing pill’. In fact, Bringsjord pressed a button featuring on their head to silence them, without deactivating them entirely.
Then, the three robots were asked which of them had received the ‘dumbing pill’, reducing them to silence. Unable to utter a sound, the two that had been silenced without knowing it remained still, in a seemingly wandering state.
Yet, the third one answered after a few seconds: ‘I don’t know’. As it was the only robot that had uttered the words, it quickly reconsidered its answer and politely came back, while trying to draw the professor’s attention:
“Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given a dumbing pill”.
All three Nao robots would have answered the same initially. As two were silenced, the task of the third Nao model was considerably easier. At least it looks so for us. For Professor Bringsjord, the experiment yields a great result for robotics regarding the bots’ self-consciousness.
In order to achieve self-consciousness, even at this basic level, the Nao robots passed the test of understanding the meaning of a question, as well as giving a meaningful answer and recognizing its own voice.
Furthermore, induction is a hard test to pass. Yet, the Nao robot that wasn’t silenced was able to understand it hadn’t been administered the ‘dumbing pill’ as long as it was able to speak.
Professor Bringsjord’s work focuses on artificial intelligence systems developed with the aid of computational logic.
The Nao robots experiment will be featuring at the RO-MAN conference in Japan, set to take place from August 31st until September 4th 2015.
As the theme of the conference is “Interaction with Socially Embedded Robots”, the self-consciousness experiment conducted on the Nao robots will surely be a hit.
Photo Credits pressexaminer.com